Water, Water Everywhere...
04/25/2008 | There is a toxic substance in your house, most likely Did you know that the majority of Bermuda homeowners use bottled water for drinking, spending well over $1,000 per year for distilled water? And those households which require top-ups because their tank water does not meet household needs spend almost $300 per year on piped water or $1,100 per year for trucked water. In fact, 62% of Bermudians use an independent source for water besides their water tank.
That’s a lot of money going down the drain for consumers in Bermuda.
Yet, these are the findings of recent Government studies suggesting that consumers are struggling to conserve enough water to meet household needs, spending a great deal of income on a free public resource, and also wary to accept that their tank water is safe for human consumption.
Unfortunately, this also suggests that despite Bermuda’s excellent reputation for its water catchment system, Bermudians are burdening the environment with tonnes of plastic water bottles and pollution from transporting water to and across Bermuda.
Where did we go so wrong handling our precious water supply?
Modern conveniences such as dishwashers, laundry machines and extra bathrooms go a long way to explaining the problem. On average, Bermudian homeowners have nine water-using appliances. The average water tank holds 13,300 gallons of water, which can’t keep up with these water-intensive machines. Ironically, those with a high number of water usage items such as these were less likely to practice water conservation efforts than homeowners overall.
The other explanation is that clever marketing by bottled water manufacturers have convinced the majority of Bermudians that the healthiest, safest drinking supply must be paid for. Thirty years ago the bottled water business barely existed, but now Americans spend over $15 billion in water. That’s 38 billion water bottles a year in American landfills.
The alternative is investing in an under-sink ultraviolet and/or carbon filter system at home for a fraction of the expense of bottled water for one year. The result is as healthy, if not healthier water than what you are presently purchasing.
As well, the Department of Health provides free water testing to any household that is concerned with the quality of its water. However, maintaining a healthy tank water supply is as easy as cleaning, disinfecting and aerating one’s tank, and cleaning and painting one’s roof regularly. Installing a filter system will only improve your tank water even further.
Consumer Affairs recently teamed up with environmental group Greenrock to test samples of Bermuda’s tank water, bottled water and filtered water to disprove the myth once and for all that (free) tank water isn’t as good as (purchased) bottled water. Our studies found that sample tank water was well within Bermuda standards for maximum acceptable limits of contaminants such as chlorides, hardness, nitrates and pH. To the contrary, one expensive bottled water imported from France failed independent testing conducted by Bermuda College lab technicians.
Consumer Affairs and Greenrock went one step further and manned a booth at the Argus Health Fair, where we asked the public to conduct a blind taste test of water samples of our tank water, bottled water, and various other filtered and distilled waters. The vast majority of our taste testers (over 50 individuals) found that there was no discernable difference in the taste of our samples, and that they all tasted, well, “like water”. Those who did find differences in taste were all over the map in their responses- there was no statistical relevance to their preference except to say that for every person who chose the bottled water sample, another chose the tank water sample, and so on.
Bermudians need to ensure that we protect our innovative water catchment system and our free, local water supply and reject the myth that you have to pay for quality water in Bermuda. Instead, take the following steps:
• Clean and maintain your tank and roof catchment system.
• Conserve water by checking for leaking faucets, toilets and water appliances, minimizing use of washing machines (including dishwashers, laundry machines and toilets), using water efficient appliances, reducing the number of times you wash your car, reducing the amount of time you take to shower and the number of baths you take per week.
• Purchase an ultraviolet light and/or carbon and sediment filter system to treat water at the tap. To see which system is best for you, visit www.waterfiltercomparisons.com.