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By Julia Lurie (/authors/julia-lurie) | Mon Aug. 1 1 , 201 4 6:00 AM EDT


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ENVIRONMENT (/ENVIRONMENT)
Climate Change (/topics/climate-change) , Econundrums (/topics/econundrums) , Food and Ag (/topics/food-and-ag) , Top Stories (/topics/top-stories)
Bottled Water Comes From the Most Drought-
Ridden Places in the Country
Popular brands like Aquafina and Dasani source from catastrophically dry parts of the
West.
6.5k Like Share Email
Bottled-water drinkers, we have a problem: there's a good chance that your water
comes from California, a state experiencing the third driest year on record.
The details of where and how bottling companies get their water are often quite murky
(http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/fiji-spin-bottle) , but generally speaking, bottled
water falls into two categories. The first is "spring water," or groundwater that's
collected, according to the EPA
(http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/faq/pdfs/fs_healthseries_bottlewater.pdf) , "at the point where water
flows naturally to the earth's surface or from a borehole that taps into the underground
source." About 55 percent (http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/03/bottled-water-
poland-spring-rubio) of bottled water in the US is spring water, including Crystal Geyser and
Arrowhead.
The other 45 percent comes from the municipal water supply, meaning that companies,
including Aquafina and Dasani, simply treat tap waterthe same stuff that comes out of
your faucet at homeand bottle it up. (Weird, right?)
But regardless of whether companies bottle from springs or the tap, lots of them are
using water in exactly the areas that need it most right now.
The map above shows the sources of water for four big-name companies that bottle in
California. Aquafina and Dasani "sources" are the facilities where tap water is treated and
bottled, whereas Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead "sources" refer to the springs
themselves.
In the grand scheme of things, the amount of water used for bottling in California is only
a tiny fraction of the amount of water used for food and beverage productionplenty of
other bottled drinks use California's water, and a whopping 80 percent of the state's
water supply goes towards agriculture. But still, the question remains: Why are
Americans across the country drinking bottled water from drought-ridden California?
One reason is simply that California happens to be where some bottled water brands
have set up shop. "You have to remember this is a 120 year old brand," said Jane
(/authors/j
ulia-lurie)
(http://facebook.com/sharer.php?u=http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/08/bottled-water-california-drought)
(http://twitter.com/home?status=Your bottled water comes from the most drought-ridden places in the country http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/08/bottled-water-california-drought via @MotherJones)
Lazgin, a representative for Arrowhead. "Some of these sources have long, long been
associated with the brand." Lazgin acknowledges that, from an environmental
perspective, "tap water is always the winner," but says that the company tries to
manage its springs sustainably. The water inside the bottle isn't the only water that
bottling companies require: Coca-Cola bottling plants, which produce Dasani, use 1.63
liters of water for every liter of beverage produced in California, according to Coca-Cola
representative Dora Wong. "Our California facilities continue to seek ways to reduce
overall water use," she wrote in an email.
Another reason we're drinking California's water: California happens to be the only
western state without groundwater regulation (http://www.motherjones.com/tom-
philpott/2014/04/california-drought-groundwater-drilling) or management of major groundwater
use. In other words, if you're a water company and you drill down and find water in
California, it's all yours.
Then there's the aforementioned murkiness of the industry: Companies aren't required
to publicly disclose exactly where their sources are or how much water each facility
bottles. Peter Gleick, author of Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with
Bottled Water (http://www.amazon.com/Bottled-Sold-Story-Behind-Obsession/dp/1610911628) , says,
"I don't think people have a clueno one knows" where their bottled water comes from.
(Fun facts he's discovered in his research: Everest water comes from Texas, Glacier
Mountain comes from Ohio, and only about a third of Poland Springs
(http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/03/bottled-water-poland-spring-rubio) water comes
from the actual Poland Spring, in Maine.)
Despite the fact that almost all US tap water is better regulated
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-h-gleick/fiji-water-when-environme_b_789503.html) and
monitored than bottled, and despite the hefty environmental
(http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/fiji-spin-bottle) footprint of the bottled water
industry, perhaps the biggest reason that bottling companies are using water in drought
zones is simply because we're still providing a demand for it: In 2012 in the US alone,
the industry produced about 10 billion gallons (http://www.bottledwater.org/economics/bottled-
water-market) of bottled water, with sales revenues at 12 billion dollars.
As Gleick wrote (http://scienceblogs.com/significantfigures/index.php/2013/04/25/bottled-water-
sales-the-shocking-reality/) , "This industry has very successfully turned a public resource
into a private commodity." And consumerswell, we're drinking it up.
Front page image: ericlefrancais (http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-77875327/stock-photo-rows-of-water-bottles-isolated-on-white-
background.html?src=csl_recent_image-1) /Shutterstock
JULIA LURIE (/authors/julia-lurie) Senior Editorial Fellow
Julia Lurie is a Mother Jones editorial fellow. You can reach her at jlurie@motherjones.com.
RSS (/RSS/AUTHORS/240641) | TWITTER (HTTP://TWITTER.COM/JULIA_LURIE)
IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...
Weat her-Sensit ive Wat ering, and 4 Ot her Simpl e
Fixes for Cal ifornia' s Drought (/bl ue-mar bl e/2014/06/paci f i c-
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Drought got you down? Here's some good news.
It Takes How Much Wat er t o Grow an Al mond?!
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Why California's drought is a disaster for your favorite fruits,
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It Takes HOW Much Wat er t o Make Greek Yogurt ?!
(/env i r onment/2014/03/cal i f or ni a-water -suck)
Dairy products require a whole lot of waterand many of them
come from drought-ridden California.
Your Al mond Habit Is Sucking Cal ifornia Dry (/tom-

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phi l pott/2014/07 /y our -al mond-habi t-sucki ng-cal i f oi r ni a-dr y )
Despite the historic drought, California just keeps planting one
of the thirstiest crops around.
Wat ch Drought Take Over t he Ent ire St at e of
Cal ifornia in One GIF (/bl ue-mar bl e/2014/07 /watch-dr ought-take-
ov er -enti r e-state-cal i f or ni a)
It started off bad, then it got worse. And then it got much,
much worse.
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101 Comments Mother Jones Login
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Reply
Hate Sucks 7 hours ago
Why anybody in the USA ever bought bottled water, short of some sort of localized
emergency, is completely beyond me.

26
Reply
MAredneck 6 hours ago Hate Sucks
Convenience.

5
Reply
jethom33545 4 hours ago MAredneck
More convenient than a faucet? Not really.

1
Reply
JammieDodger 4 hours ago jethom33545
Well... there are quite a few places in the US where the tap water is
virtually undrinkable without filtering, so maybe they are too lazy to do
that.

2
Reply
Josh Dulcich 3 hours ago JammieDodger
because sometimes you don't have a drink and you are thirsty. seems
like a pretty obvious reason unless you are dumb.

4
Reply
rayb_baby 3 hours ago Josh Dulcich
How difficult is it to bottle your own water and take it with you? Or are
you just too lazy and DUMB too do that? Bottled water is the biggest
scam in the country and a waste of energy and resourcs and a terrible
litter problem. Or are you too DUMB to realize any of that?

6
Reply
Try Finding Me 3 hours ago jethom33545
Ok, so you are driving down the road, far from your house, and are
thirsty. Where is the nearest faucet? Of course, you could drink high
fructose corn syrup, which is ok by you? But water is not?

5
MarkTele 3 hours ago Try Finding Me
THINK ahead and bring your own water.
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THINK ahead and bring your own water.

6
Reply
Try Finding Me 3 hours ago MarkTele
in absence of perfect planning every time you leave the house...

3
Reply
MarkTele 3 hours ago Try Finding Me
put your water bottle next to your keys. I bet you don't have a problem
bringing your phone with you everywhere you go,

4
Reply
Try Finding Me 3 hours ago MarkTele
because you never get thirsty when you are out and about doing
things. Really?
Obvious troll is obvious....

1
Reply
DoubleCheck 2 hours ago Try Finding Me
Has your doctor checked you recently for diabetes?

1
Reply
Zootalaws 2 hours ago DoubleCheck
He has a family history of stupidity.

1
Reply
MarkTele 2 hours ago Try Finding Me
when all else fails, play the troll card. wtf do you think we did in the 70s.
you obviously aren't into hiking.

2
Reply
Allan Richardson 4 hours ago Hate Sucks
It is a more convenient way to get water to people away from a faucet, either in
groups or when one is on a trip. Unlike a "borrowed" faucet, the sterility of the water
can (usually) be trusted. So to distribute water to a marathon race, board meeting,
etc. or to take on a road trip, bottled water is the only practical way to do it. And of
course, when tap water systems are contaminated, such as in New Orleans after
Katrina, there are only two options: tanker trucks and trucks full of bottled water in
pallets.
By the way, the French probably get a laugh out ot Americans buying Evian water:
"Evian" is "naive" spelled backwards!


Reply
Webster Johns 3 hours ago Hate Sucks
Because people are stupid. After all, the American people did not support Ron Paul.

1
Reply
John Doeman 3 hours ago Webster Johns
Because people are stupid. After all, the American people did not support Ron
Paul.
---
and won't support his zionist sell-out son either.

11
Reply
DoubleCheck 2 hours ago John Doeman
Nice, clean hit.


Reply
fvtrfvrfv an hour ago Webster Johns
Maybe you don't care if your water tastes like crap, or that tap water has
chlorine and fluoride in it, but that doesn't mean that everyone else is stupid.
Your immediate assumption that anyone who has a different opinion than you
must be stupid proves how ignorant you really are.


Reply
2strange 3 hours ago Hate Sucks
Many parts of the West have tap water that is not drinkable

3
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rayb_baby 3 hours ago Hate Sucks
Bottled water is one of the biggest all time scams with all of the environmental issues
attached to it. People just don't give a damn!

1
Reply
fvtrfvrfv an hour ago rayb_baby
Bottled water tastes better than the tap water in a lot of places, dumbass. Just
because you're cheap and classless doesn't mean it's a worldwide scam.


Reply
fvtrfvrfv an hour ago Hate Sucks
Because a lot of places have tap water that tastes like shit. Is THAT "beyond" you and
your understanding?

1
Reply
Ideation20 7 hours ago
Dasani and Aquafina use energy to scrub the water of any content, and Pepsi and Coke want
far too much for those distilled water. One would think our NATO partners from Canada ans
Scandinavia would offer up the H2O, they have great amounts.


Reply
DoubleCheck 4 hours ago Ideation20
They had better hurry. The way Harper's Horrors are regulating the oil sand monsters
and the pipeline spillers Canada will soon be lucky to have any good water.

5
Reply
Ideation20 3 hours ago DoubleCheck
He looks like a real dope. He supposedly admires George Bush 43. Our water
study shows the resource north of the Alberta border and the in the Hudson's
Bay Area. There still is great water in the ground if the Canadians don't go nuts
with Fracking.
What's with these guys and their pipeline love but no real pride in design or
safety. The Canadians had an on the water pipeline leak for 14 months in
Michigan.....yuck

2
Reply
Zootalaws 2 hours ago Ideation20
So " the Canadians" didn't have a leak, michegonians did.


Reply
DoubleCheck 2 hours ago Zootalaws
Right, people of Michigan suffered for the violation by an oil interest that
the Canadian government (as well as the American government,
etcetera) sells itself to.


Reply
Ideation20 2 hours ago Zootalaws
It was a Trans Canada pipeline with access through Michigan. I think
somebody in our country runs Trans Canada, under Canadian law.
Michiganders? Michigandian? Michiganites? It used to be Ganders
when I went to school there in 1923, kidding I'm not that young.
"first I was against the pipeline and now I really don't want it, I have to
make up mind"

1
Reply
DoubleCheck 2 hours ago Ideation20
Harper is humping himself, because he believes that he's found the
way to riches... for himself. He simply works to make himself
indispensable where the looting is richest.
Wait until they frack open the chambers where they going to store
nuclear wastes so close to Lake Erie. (I think that's the lake that those
storage chambers are going to be so close to.)


Ideation20 2 hours ago DoubleCheck
Oh that sounds horrific, is Douglas Point or Point Douglas.....that's an
old Nuke....my parents had a friend that went up there to work on
it.....my parents are in their early 90s.
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BJM2 7 hours ago
I personally do not touch bottled water. Unfortunately, our city is using a purification process
that is the lowest allowed by the EPA and is not good for anyone with a compromised
system. Fish in fish tanks with our water have died as did my daughter's dog following
surgery. So, not knowing when my dog may become ill and die as my daughter's dog did
from drinking our water, I do buy the large container, but only our dog gets it. I will continue to
use the tap water as long as I am healthy. And - I save lots of money in the process!

1
Reply
msfrost 6 hours ago BJM2
You can get filters for your tap, which use Activated Charcoal.

8
Reply
Jeane Thompson 30 minutes ago msfrost
We got a whole house filtering system which uses activated charcoal. I still
can not drink the city water without getting sick. The city has recently informed
all customers to watch for, and report, any carpet cleaning companies we
witness disposing of their used cleaning chemical/water solutions into the
curbside drains. Said drains send rain water, lawn sprinkling water, etc. back
to the drinking water reservoirs. The municipal filtering systems, plus the
homeowner filtering systems, do not filter out carpet cleaning chemicals,
medications, pesticides or herbicides.

1
Reply
Billybob207 6 hours ago
If you read the annual statement from your water district, you will know more about it than you
could ever know about bottled water. And then there is the handling of bottled water. I see
pallets of it stacked in front of stores - in the sun on a hot day. Who wants to guess what's in
that water now?
Drink your local tap, use a filter.

21
Reply
James Knochel 6 hours ago Billybob207
The commonly-used carbon filters don't remove fluoride. Bone char carbon, activated
alumina and reverse osmosis systems are the three types of water filters that do help
with the fluoride problem.

3
Reply
keepntch 5 hours ago James Knochel
Fluoride isn't as big a problem for the world as the plastic in the bottles or the
political organizations that spread the fear of it.
Certainly there are cheaper ways to provide treatment to those who need it,
however the same groups that don't want it in our water don't want anything to
do with poor children or the poor at all for that matter.

17
Reply
techBob 4 hours ago keepntch
"the same groups that don't want it in our water don't want anything to
do with poor children or the poor at all for that matter."
That's a lame and baseless accusation!

5
Reply
Florenzo 4 hours ago James Knochel
Aquasana does! http://www.consumerreports.org...


Reply
msfrost 6 hours ago
"third of Poland Springs water comes from the actual Poland Spring, in Maine.)" The other 2/3
comes from other springs in Maine, it lists them on the label.

4
Reply
susanthe 5 hours ago msfrost
I don't believe them. Nestle sucked the Poland Spring dry a long time ago. They won't
allow anyone to even go there.

9
obx1212 5 hours ago
Back in the early 80's when I was living in Metro DC I asked the head engineer at WSSC - the
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Back in the early 80's when I was living in Metro DC I asked the head engineer at WSSC - the
entity that handled water supplies for DC and suburbia - what water he drank. There had
been some publicity about WSSC having to increase the chlorination of the water due to
excess bacteria. The engineer told me that he didn't drink bottled water since the sources
were essentially unknown and untested. What he did to dispel the chlorine taste was to take
tap water, put some in a glass container with a loose lid on it, let it sit in the back of his
refrigerator over-night so that the chlorine would bubble out. He recommended washing the
container every day or two so that bacteria wouldn't build up in it. I took his advice and have
drunk clean, safe, de-chlorinated, cheap tap water ever since.

15
Reply
susanthe 5 hours ago
It's disturbing that this story doesn't even mention Nestle, the evil empire behind most water
theft in this country.

21
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keepntch 5 hours ago
And what about Nestle and their CEO that would like to control all the water so that we have
only bottled water as options. How about telling us about the Nestle plant in the third world
country where the residents have no clean water but Nestle has all they want.
http://www.bottledlifefilm.com...
"Res Gehriger's research took him to Pakistan, Nestl's test market for its Pure Life product.
The company refused him access to its production plant in Pakistan but Gehriger did get to
see something of life outside the factory fence. In the nearby village groundwater levels have
fallen dramatically, and the village fountain water is nothing more than foul-smelling sludge.
Nestl Pure Life is a clever business concept. And particularly so in the developing world. In
countries such as Pakistan where the public water supply has failed or is close to collapse,
the company proudly presents its bottled water as a safe health-enhancing alternative. But for
the overwhelming majority of consumers, it is an expensive out-of-reach alternative. In Lagos,
for example, the mega metropolis of Nigeria/Africa with its population of millions, water
always comes at a price. The scenario of a city in which everyone has to pay for life-giving
water, is already a sad reality in Lagos. Families eking out an existence in the slums spend
half their meagre budget on canisters of water. The upper class? They purchase Nestl Pure
Life."
The upper class?

6
Reply
PT-109 3 hours ago keepntch
Thank you for the link i look forward to seeing this


Reply
PT-109 5 hours ago
Bottled water is more expensive than gasoline yet we all complain about gas.
I have a feeling that the CEO's of Coke and Pepsi are laughing at us.

14
Reply
jazz mania 4 hours ago PT-109
Weighing in at a bit over 8lbs a gallon, you're not paying for the water as much as you
are paying to have it shipped.

5
Reply
MAredneck 3 hours ago PT-109
Not true, I just bought 36, .5 liter bottles at BJ's for $3.00. That's about 75 cents a
gallon.

2
Reply
BIll Teston 4 hours ago
So, it's YOUR fault for buying it and not some faceless corporations fault for continuing to
bottle and sell it?
Got it.
Bottled water is one of the greatest scams ever pulled on on the public...

6
Reply
Zootalaws 2 hours ago BIll Teston
Unless you live somewhere there isn't a safe water supply. I don't see it as a scam, I
see it as a cheap, safe alternative to beer.


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