Last week we talked about the slightly queasy possibility of creating potable water from recycled sewage. One of the arguments to go down this road is the quality of the water that can be produced through modern wastewater treatment methods, such as our own NUTREM and Pure SBR technologies. We specifically mentioned the clarity of the water as being comparable to that of bottled water as, in this context, this is high praise for water that was once in a toilet bowl.
What we haven’t questioned – and it is good to see this in the Guardian this morning – is whether bottled water should really be considered the holy grail for water quality.
Thanks to the marketing campaigns of the various companies responsible for bringing us bottled water, we associate their products not only with crystal clear, refreshing drinking water but also a healthy lifestyle, as if the water we purchase in a bottle is obviously better for us than anything that trickles out of our taps. Even if this is more of a feeling lodged in our subconscious than a bold claim by the companies involved, is there actually any truth in it?
Well, according to the study referenced in the Guardian the answer is no, there is absolutely no evidence that bottled water is better for you than tap water. While this may come as a surprise to some, for those of us that work closely with water companies, developers and the Environment Agency it is clear why bottled water would not be of a higher quality than our tap water – strict regulations surrounding wastewater, drinking water and the environment.
Although in this country we do not recycle wastewater directly into drinkable water the regulations imposed by the Environment Agency are tough on water companies and developers, and the advanced wastewater treatment solutions we provide are designed to achieve outstanding effluent qualify that conforms with these regulations. A good example would be the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen allowed in treated water, which we talked about in a previous article.
It is not surprising then that once the water previously treated to these high standards by a wastewater treatment plant is removed from a river and treated at a water treatment plant to drinkable standards, it arrives at our taps in a condition similar to, or indeed better than bottled water.
So is this again, purely a psychological trip wire? Why does the image of bottled water scooped directly from the mountainous regions of Europe seem more appealing than a strictly regulated, continuous supply of clean drinking water? Let us know your feelings about drinking water, bottled or otherwise, in the comments below!