I'm starting a new thread on this for purely selfish reasons: Nobody's going to read the 20th post in a string of bottled water comments, and I KNOW THE TRUTH!
For what it's worth, my newspaper has done a number of stories on bottled water, and I've researched it from several angles. I've probably seen a dozen studies on its quality and purity, and NONE has concluded it's safer or more pure than most municipal tap water. Virtually all of it IS tap water from one place or another, filtered at almost no cost, bottled and shipped around the country. It's an environmental disaster from the standpoint of energy used to process it and transport it, and Americans throw away hundreds of millions of plastic bottles a year.
A problem that's just coming to light is the impact on cities where the water is bottled. One recent report said Americans drink 26 billion gallons of bottled water a year, and nearly all of it comes from municipal supplies. That's a huge draw on resources, particularly in the West, where a lot of cities are just barely keeping up with the water demands of their residents.
Several high-end restaurants in San Francisco have recently quit selling bottled water, even though the profit margin is enormous, 500 percent or more, because it's environmentally unsound. And in blind tastings, many cities' water, including San Francisco's, routinely beats the expensive bottled stuff. This is pure marketing, a monument to how stupid the American consumer can be.