When I was a kid, if I was thirsty, that meant turning on the tap. Or at least refilling the pitcher of cold tap water in the fridge. I didn't much care for water, so the one-per-day Ecto Cooler (yes, I'm dating myself) was a sweet, thirst-quenching treat.

Now that I'm an adult (an Ecto Cooler is discontinued) I try to drink as much water as I can make myself consume. However, I tend to reach for a Coke Zero or an iced tea instead.

When I finally drink water, it's from a plastic gallon jug I bought from the store. But is bottled water worth the premium I'm paying? Or is the tap of my childhood just as good? The answer, like some water in Texas, is quite murky.


Texas is quite a large state, so the water quality varies greatly between municipalities. The water in a big city like Houston is probably much better than in a tiny Texas town like the aptly named Shallowater.

Some Texas water has been found to contain arsenic (yes, the poison), disinfection by-products, haloacetic acids (which can cause cancer), chloroform, radioactive elements, and other equally scary-sounding stuff.

However, your bottled water might not be much better, as it could be the same water. Depending on the brand, your water could be from a municipal water supply. The brand has likely treated the water, so at least it's filtered, I guess.

Here's an edifying video about where your bottled water comes from, and most of the big brands are sourced from a municipal supply:


There is also the problem of plastic. The bottle itself can be a source of cancer-causing chemicals, particularly polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET chemicals can leach into your water if exposed to high heat, like the trunk of your car hit by the Texas sun on the way back from the grocery store.

It seems like the best solution is to buy water in bulk that is poured into a PET free, reusable plastic bottle (like a 5-gallon size). Or you can invest in a reverse-osmosis system for your home, but they can get quite pricey and you will have to replace the filters every six months.

So who is the ultimate winner between tap and bottle? For me, it's bottle, simply because I'll actually drink it. Where I live, the tap water smells, tastes, and looks bad. My bottle might have chemicals, but at least I can't see floaties in it.

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