According to the International Bottled Water Association, Americans consumed more than 2.9 billion gallons of bottled water last year. Californians top the list with an average 24 gallons per person, followed by Texans and Floridians who consume about 18 gallons each year.
But is the consumer aware of the type of bottled water he or she is purchasing?
"Not all bottled water is created equal," says Jane Lazgin, Communications Director for The Perrier Group.
"Consumers can see there are many kinds of bottled water on today's store shelves," Lazgin points out. "From spring water to purified or drinking water, the greatest difference is in their origin."
Lazgin explains the differences in type and taste of the most commonly purchased varieties of bottled water.
"The most natural form of bottled water is pristine spring water which emerges from an underground aquifer so full it is bursting at the seams," explains Lazgin. "High-quality springs yield clean water that has been naturally filtered by layers of the earth.
"Drinking, distilled or purified water usually comes from a municipal water supply. These waters are then processed by various methods, at minimum through carbon, before bottling."
Just as the sources of bottled water can vary, so can the differences in taste.
"The most noticeable difference in taste between bottled water and tap water is the absence of chlorine," explains Lazgin. "When it comes to the bottled varieties, distilled water, for instance, has virtually no taste because all of the minerals have been removed. The taste of spring water differs according to local content of minerals and trace elements-whether it's through native limestone in Texas or sandstone in California. Mother Nature cures the water and creates a separate personality and taste for each region. No two are the same."
Current federal regulations require the type of water to be clearly identified on brand labels. By taking a few moments to study the labels, families can be better assured of what they are getting for their money.
It's All In The Label
Spring water: naturally filtered water that flows to the surface from underground aquifers and is then refiltered before bottling.
Purified water: water that typically comes from municipal supplies and is treated by distillation (distilled water), deionization, or reverse osmosis.
Drinking water: water that typically comes from municipal supplies and is, at minimum, carbon filtered.
Sparkling water: water that contains carbonation (but not soda or seltzer water, which are considered soft drinks.)
Mineral water: bottled water containing not less than 250 parts per million of total dissolved solids (minerals and trace elements.) (NAPSI)