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volume 2 - resource management Strategies

The use of bottled water is an increasing trend in the United States and California, with about one-third of Americans consuming it regularly. The National Bottled Water Association reports US consumption of bottled water was 29.3 gallons per person in 2007, and growing by over one gallon annually. In 2005, California ranked No 1 in the nation for percent of the bottled water share (23.9 percent) and was ranked No. 3 behind Arizona and Louisiana for per capita consumption at 51.2 gallons (Donoho, 2007).

Some of the reasons individuals choose to use bottled water include convenience, image, taste, and perceived health benefits. On the other hand, many consumers are becoming aware of the environmental impact associated with the production, transportation and waste disposal of bottled water including the contributions to green house gas emissions. While tap water and bottled water are regulated differently, both are generally safe, healthy choices. Tap water (as provided by a public water system) provides public health and fire protection among its other advantages to a modern quality of life. Bottled water costs significantly more than tap water for the volume consumed in cooking and drinking.

Bottled water is regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration under the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). California regulates bottled and vended water to a much greater degree than provided in the FD&C Act. California’s Sherman Food, Drug and Cosmetic Law is the basic statute that authorizes such regulation and is implemented by the CDPH Food and Drug Branch.

Drinking Water Treatment in California

Public Health

Water treatment includes processes that treat, blend, or condition the water supply of a public water system for the purpose of meeting primary and secondary drinking water standards. These processes include a wide range of facilities, such as basic chlorine disinfection, surface water filtration, and, more recent, technical advances—membrane filtration, ultraviolet light, and ozone to meet pathogen removal and/or inactivation as well as disinfection requirements (while controlling disinfectant byproducts) for surface waters; chemical removal and blending facilities; or buffering to ensure the water is not corrosive in the distribution system and customers’ piping. Blending treatment, a process of reducing the concentration of a contaminant in one water source by blending or dilution with water that has a lower concentration, is an acceptable practice for meeting chemical water quality standards, but not for meeting microbiological standards. Fluoridation treatment, now commonly practiced in California, may be used to add fluoride to an optimal level to provide dental health benefits.

Widespread treatment of drinking water, especially disinfection, filtration and fluoridation, was a great public health advancement of the 20th century. The 21st century promises to bring additional advances in water treatment technologies to improve water use efficiency (increase water recovery and reduce waste streams) and manage energy


caLifoRnia WateR PLan | update 2009

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