It has been a longstanding myth that bottled water is healthier than tap water.
THE TRUTH: In Australia, the government places strict regulations on the public water supply. Bottled water companies are subject to regulations as well, but not by the government. Regulations for bottled water are set by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) and applied by the Australian Bottled Water Institue (ABWI), both private institutions although FSANZ falls within the Australian Government’s Health and Ageing portfolio.
Sydney’s drinking water is tested daily to determine whether or not it meets certain health and aesthetic criteria and these results are available online. Sydney Water tests for contaminents like E. coli, fluoride, chlorine, and iron at nearly every stage of the water distribution process. From catchment to dams to delivery to treatment to distribution and even to the tap in your house, they analyze water quality to ensure it is safe for human consumption.
On the other hand, both FSANZ and ABWI do not report the results of water quality testing on bottled water. It is unclear whether or not these organizations even analyze the water quality of all bottled water companies in the Australian/New Zealand markets.
Coming from the US, the Australians are pretty damn lucky that bottled water have any regulations at all. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has detailed specifications for the acceptable quality of public water. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) places some regulations on American bottled water; however, many companies often forego health regulations to achieve a better flavor. Some companies, like Dasani and Aquafina, even sell tap water that might have been altered slightly to alter the flavor. It’s appalling, right?