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Posted 8:00 am
May 12, 2013

Tap water remains best choice for SF

The water in San Francisco is not only some of the crispest water found on the planet, it’s safe to drink and probably safer than bottled.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, bottled water is the fastest growing beverage in sales in the United States and Americans spend billions of dollars each year to buy it. San Francisco businesses are educating the public on using tap water to refill their reusable containers with the freshest water found in the nation.

Plastic water bottles are harmful to the environment because so much plastic is needed to satisfy the demand for bottled water. The plastics aren’t always recycled and plastics can potentially spread toxic chemicals through the contained liquids, which can be harmful to the consumer. Choosing to refill reusable containers is the healthier, more environmentally friendly solution.

Bottled water is regulated by the Federal Department of Agriculture, which has lower standards for pollutants. During the regulation process bacterias and pollutants are more likely to be missed.

Bottled water manufacturers are not required to disclose as much information as municipal water utilities by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Where the water came from, how it has been treated and what contaminants it contains remain a secret to consumers. Currently, the FDA has not been applying EPA standards to bottled water. They have only adopted a fraction of EPA tap water standards and in turn have been criticized for it.

The FDA is allowed to refuse the EPA tap water standards as long as it proves what it doesn’t apply to bottled water. It’s important for people to be aware of what they are buying and the damage it has on the environment in order to make better, more informed choices.

There is also a huge problem when it comes time to recycle each finished bottle of water. Almost eight out of ten end up in a landfill or incinerator and millions end up as litter on roads and beaches or in streams and other waterways, according to the Container Recycling Institute.

Taxpayers pay hundreds of millions of dollars each year in disposal and litter cleanup costs. San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu has been lobbying to ban plastic water bottles at events where water stations are available. He is also pushing to prohibit the sale of plastic bottles in all future city contracts, with exceptions for sporting events and the airport.

San Franciscans are probably unaware that they have some of the freshest tap water in the world. The water that is found in the toilets and ice cube trays in San Francisco comes from snowmelt in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park on the Tuolumne River.

San Francisco’s tap water is quality tested more than 100,000 times a year and surpasses state and local water quality standards, according to the EPA. This ensures the water provided by San Francisco County is healthy year-round.

Many organizations have campaigns dedicated to have San Franciscans ditch plastic water bottles and stick to drinking tap water.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission started the San Francisco Water Power Sewer and in 2010 the company installed outdoor refilling tap stations around the city of San Francisco, with a few stations in San Bruno. This allows free access to high-quality water for everyone. The company’s main goal is to encourage the conservation of natural resources and reduce waste from plastic water bottles.

San Franciscans, it’s time to fill up that reusable container with water straight from the tap.