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Research shows bottled water no healthier than tap

You have undoubtedly seen the debate featured on your local news, read it in the newspaper or heard it mentioned on the radio. Is tap water safe to drink? Isn't bottled water healthier? Who regulates them and is there any difference?

Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, while municipal/tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Although they may be regulated by different agencies, extensive research has proven that both are generally safe to consume.

In fact, as much as 40 percent of bottled water is actually "bottled" tap water, according to the Food and Water Watch Organization. The age-old debate of tap vs. bottled water all boils down to two factors- saving money and the environment. Why pay two to four times the price of gasoline for what is free?

Americans spend $11 billion each year purchasing bottled water products, second only to caffeinated drinks. This means approximately 215 bottles are consumed per person every year, for a total of 66 billion bottles of water. These empty bottles create mountains of garbage in local landfills and take over 700 years to decompose. Only one in every 10 bottles is recycled. Plus, more energy is used to manufacture, store and transport bottled water.

So next time you feel the need to quench your thirst, think twice about buying that expensive bottled water with the fancy name and beautiful packaging. You can get the same result from the tap without buying into all the hype.

To learn more about your local tap water, visit the EPA's site and search for your city at http://water.epa.gov/drink/local/