Apr 25

Drinking water straight out of the tap

It just got harder to find commercial bottled water in a National Park. According to an environmental specialist at Grand Canyon disposable bottles make up 20% of the Grand Canyon’s waste stream, and 30% of the recyclables.
So to the get rid of the problem, the disposable bottles were banished from the store shelves inside the park this Spring.
They have installed free water faucets and now sell reusable water bottles.

A tall, cold one It's a tall order for little Phil Osburn, but the 3-year-old from San Luis Obispo managed to turn on the faucet to quench his thirst. Phil and his family spent a recent summer's day playing at Laguna Lake Park June 8, 1984. ©Doug Parker/Telegram-Tribune

I also found the faucets installed at Zion and Arches National Parks while vacationing this spring.
All the parks recommend drinking a gallon of water a day, especially when the walking during the warm months of summer. So bring a few refillable bottles when you go.
I guess banning the disposable bottles makes sense, the pioneers did not cross the trackless deserts leaving trails of plastic waste in their wake.
When I grew up water bottles were glass five gallon glass jugs atop the office cooler, or something a baby had in crib in between milk fill ups.
If you wanted something cold to drink the vending machine had sturdy 6-fluid-ounce glass bottles of Coke, Pepsi or the local sarsaparilla. The glass bottles were returned on the side of the machine, collected in wood racks, sterilized, refilled and sent out again.
Over the years the sugar water bottles ballooned in size and were transitioned to disposable glass and later plastic.
Later the fitness boom took hold, gurus told us that we needed to drink eight glasses of water a day.
Bottled water began to flood the supermarket shelves. Water. And not just one brand of water. Stuff that used to come in large handled plastic jugs with a spigot on the end now was being shipped in designer bottles from France and Fiji. Your status depended on what bottle of water you held in your sweaty hands.
Soda companies wanted a piece of the action and ramped some bottling lines into water production. Careful studies were made to make sure distilled water had just the right combination of minerals added back in to give it a focus group tested good flavor.
The water was marketed as a pure alternative to the enemy of private water, public tap water. However nothing is as simple as the marketing folks tell you.
Municipal water can have problems but it is regularly tested to meet standards. While old pipes can have lead or make the water taste a little off, the bottled water may also have contaminants as from the plastic. Leaving the bottles in a hot car can bring out those contaminants.
What comes out of the tap costs fractions of a cent compared to bottled water. Bottles that travel in trucks and can cost upwards of a buck a bottle and then must be trucked out again when emptied.
A study by the Pacific Institute said that the billions of bottles made in 2006 required 17 million barrels of oil. Nationwide less than 15% of the bottles were recycled. Each bottle may require as much as a quarter bottle of oil to produce.
That 3-year-old had it right, my next drink is straight out of the tap.

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