And here is yet another study on bottled water that contributes absolutely nothing to the debate on which is better. The actual study can be found here in PDF format. The study itself is really as worthless as the article, although it does point out that the (mind-bogglingly obvious) reason that bottled water is so popular is that it is convenient. This, of course contributes nothing to the debate on whether bottled water is better than tap water, Better presumably indicating tastier, more pure or healthier.
To my mind the arguments about the purity and/or health benefits of bottled water completely miss the point of why they are marketable. Arguments around the taste of water are even more absurd because water actually has no taste. There have been several studies using blind tasting methods and they unanimously show that people cannot tell the difference between tap water (once the chlorine smell has dissipated) and bottle water, with one notable exception. People invariably find the purest form of water, distilled water, the least palatable of all. One has to conclude, therefore, that it is the impurities in water (the solute load) that produces the taste. This makes the arguments about purity even more meaningless.
The real reason the bottled water is so popular is that it is not being compared to tap water at all, it is being compared to soda drinks, especially the colas. As such, even the water bottled straight from the tap is “purer” and “healthier” than sodas. This particular study, as tiny and non-conclusive as it is, at least touches on the real reason that water bottling plants are doing well even in a recession. Water is better than the alternative and it is more convenient than tap water.
Of course, we could all buy plastic refillable bottles from the warehouse and fill them from the tap before we venture forth in the morning. But than we may run the danger of looking slightly dorky. And, much to the disappointment of economists the world over, man is not a rational being, but a fashionable one.