Source & Spending: Do You Trust Your Water?

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East River

East River, New York

Here at the NYIT campus, many students drink bottled water often in the belief that it’s safer, but is it? If you live in Flint, Michigan, the answer to that question has become scandalously obvious… it’s downright dangerous. The water tragedy in Flint, Michigan has been a national news story and has caused other cities to voice their concerns. Large amounts of lead have been found in the water of Flint due to their recent change in water sources. The old lead pipes used to irrigate from a local river are the cause in the lead poisoning cases surrounding Flint.

Thankfully, the water on Long Island is safe, specifically the Westbury Water District in a 2012 Drinking Water Quality Report stated, “Generally, the water quality of the aquifer is good to excellent, although there are localized areas of contamination.” Showing that the water is safe for the community, but like all water sources it is not perfect. Water sources are routinely checked for water quality in all parts of Long Island and have shown in records to be of good quality. Aside from this fact, the information doesn’t really matter to most avid bottled water drinkers. More than half of all American drink bottled water.

According to the National Resources Defense Council (NDRC), more than a third consumes it regularly. If that is the case, more than half of all 318.9 million of people living in the U.S. as recorded in 2014, spend four billion in water as calculated in 2015 bottled water expenditures. Yes, that is roughly how much we as a country spend on bottled water alone.

“While I’m in New York, I drink bottled water because I don’t have something to filter the tap water,” said NYIT BS/D.O student Mitali Chansarkar. But have most people ever considered what might be in this bottled water? “I usually don’t read the back of the label,” Mitali admits. Neither do many people, says Prof Tagliaferri, who lectures Environmental History. Reading the back of the label isn’t primarily the concern of most people because they trust their water comes from a pure and filtrated source.

“I drink any water I can find (bottled and filter water) I also drink tap water,” said Raiyan Islam, NYIT junior Biology major. “The most I’ve ever paid was for a bottle of expensive smart water. I always read label to see where they come from and I drink bottled water more.”

Not many people read the back of their water bottles for source information and in comparison plastic water bottles are the most commonly used containers for still drinking water. Not every NYIT student is quenching their thirst with four-dollar bottles of water.

“I drink a lot of water most of it is from a water fountain because one, it’s free and two, it’s regulated,” said Marie Romulus, NYIT sophomore Architecture major. “I only buy if I will be on the move and not in a building. I’ve never read the back of the bottle to see where it’s from.”

If you’d like to save money, make sure your water is pure like some of the options at NYIT. The Student Activities Center (SAC) is a specially designed water fountain to refill your water bottles and thermos’ using sensors. This helps decrease the amount of plastic water bottles needed to be recycled and comes from a regulated source. Drinking from a fountain in all respects does help save money on water and if the source is safe to your knowledge, water fountains can be useful in refilling on water throughout the day.

Top selling bottled water companies such as Aquafina (owned by PepsiCo) and Nestle Pure Life are competing for your trust. “I drink Poland Spring water. The most I have paid for a water bottle is 4 dollars. I don’t read the back of the bottle. At home I drink bottled water,” said Aldwin Peter James, a sophomore Sociology major.

Unsurprisingly, along with gaining the trust of the public, bottled water companies have charged high prices for water and cause apathy among consumers. “The ultimate rip off that I see is the sale of bottled water,” he continues. “I drink bottled water exclusively…some are purified from municipal sources, processed though reverse osmosis, and some we are told come from natural springs.  The water we drink may be from the tap in our kitchen…we worry about getting cancer from the water. So we give in to what we have been told are pure water sources.”

Companies try to create a new way of shipping water. For example, ‘Boxed Water Is Better’ company should be cheaper because of their carton containers and shipping process, but instead are even more costly. Their website has “the water twenty-one dollars for a twelve pack of five hundred millimeter water cartons shipped to your door.” And more expensive for their Boxed Water tee shirt and carted water, thirty-two dollars, which for all water sold has an expiration date.  Tagliaferri continues: “Only through marketing and advertisements will the cost be reduced,” he says. “Boxed water will find its way to our supermarket shelf.” Interestingly enough the Boxed Water Is Better Company sources its water from Grand Rapids, Michigan one hundred and one miles from Flint, Michigan. The water is from a pure municipal source, but does have its high expense.

In a statement by NYIT’s Environmental History professor Paul Tagliaferri: “water sources for hundreds of millions of people are being seriously depleted or polluted.” When these water sources become too polluted, they are not safe for public swimming and fishing. Tagliaferri goes on to say, “forest, grassland and wetlands are what help to keep erosion and pollution from flowing into our waters.” As a country we cut down these natural filters every year, causing pollution to our very own water sources.

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Source & Spending: Do You Trust Your Water?