We can’t live without water but at the same time, just how ‘clean’ is the water from our tap. In Australia, we’re lucky enough to have ‘safe’ drinking water in our homes but what about ‘filtered’ water? Here are some comparisons of bottled water versus water from home.
Buying bottled water is extremely popular with people but at what cost to you and the planet? You can’t even be sure that the water being sold is filtered or will taste good. Besides the harmful effects producing bottled water has on the environment, here are some other facts about bottled water in Australia.
- If you were to drink 2 litres of tap water from the tap in your home per day, it would probably cost you about $1.50 per year. If you were to purchase 2 litres of bottled water per day, you’re looking at more than $2,800 per year!
- Set by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines define safe, good-quality water and how it is achieved and assured through filtration plants designed to remove contaminants.
- Even good-quality tap water might not taste good. In a 2004 survey South Australians ranked least satisfied with the quality of their tap water for drinking, followed by Western Australians and Queenslanders. If the quality of tap water is a problem where you live, a water filter could be a lot cheaper in the long run than buying bottled water. These are available with different filter cartridges that help remove impurities, which may help with taste.
- There is no difference to the health benefits of bottled water to tap water. It will hydrate you in exactly the same manner.
- Where fluoride is added to tap water in Australia, regulations mandate 0.6 – 1.1mg per litre. Although the Australia Food Standards Code permits bottlers to add the same amount to their bottled water, the Australian Bottled Water Industry (ABWI) says some people will choose bottled water over tap as a means of avoiding chemicals such as fluoride.
- Although the ABWI boasts that all plastic bottles are made from recyclable material, the truth is less than half of these PET plastic bottles are actually recycled, with the remaining 60% going straight to landfill. US-based policy research organisation, The Pacific Institute, estimates twice as much water is used in producing the plastic bottle as there is in the bottle itself. This means every litre consumed actually represents three litres of water to manufacture the bottle.
- Clean Up Australia says that plastic bottles are among the 10 most common rubbish items picked up on Clean Up Australia Day, and actively encourages people to avoid bottled water.
- Buying a reusable water bottle and filling with water from home will save you money and the environment.
- Compared to other fluids you buy, for example 1 litre of milk at $2.00 per litre, 1 litre of lemonade @ $0.60 per litre, purchasing bottled water from the supermarket will still set you back by at least $1.60 per litre. That’s even more than the cost of petrol per litre.
You may live in an area of Australia where town water isn’t as readily available and you may need to rely on rainwater which has been harvested into a tank. In this case, it’s imperative that the water is filtered if going to be used for drinking.
- Rainwater harvesting is viewed by many, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as a partial solution to the problems posed by water scarcity: droughts and desertification, erosion from runoff, over-reliance on depleted aquifers, and the costs of new irrigation, diversion, and water treatment facilities.
- Contaminants in water may include algae, air pollution, bird excrement, and leaves, sand, and dust. Local wells have dealt with these problems for decades. Installation of filtration and purification equipment can remove these contaminants at home as well.
- Almost all systems use multiple filters. For example, after gutter screens and/or a first flush device, a system often includes two in-line filters of increasing fineness, a carbon filter and a UV light. Each of these are described below to assist you in evaluating what might be the right alternative for your planned water use and required water quality.
- The first filters in a system are cartridge filters. They range widely in what they are capable of removing and are used in a series (for example a 20 micron followed immediately by a 5 micron filter).
- Filters will not eliminate all substances in the water. To create drinking quality water, filtration is always followed by disinfection. The EPA requires surface and ground water to be disinfected before it is consumed. Consequently, public water systems add disinfectants to destroy microorganisms that can cause disease in people and animals.
- Kinds of disinfection include chlorinisation, ozonisation, ultraviolet (UV) light, and membrane filtration. In evaluating disinfection methods, be aware that some actually create unhealthy byproducts that need to be treated.
- UV light works by penetrating an organism’s cell walls and disrupting the cell’s genetic makeup, making it impossible to reproduce and rendering it harmless. Often it is claimed that it kills the microorganism, but it doesn’t – it just makes them unable to reproduce and thus harmless. UV lights do not change the chemical composition of the water and leave behind no by-products.
- Membrane filtration is another alternative. Membrane filtration involves pushing water through a layer of material. Pressure-driven membrane technologies include microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration and reverse osmosis. It is one of the few technologies capable of removing pharmaceuticals, and creates no byproducts.
- The last commonly available purification technology is distillation. Distillation separates the water from the impurities through heating and then collecting the condensation. It is very energy intensive and loses about 5-10% of the water due to evaporation. Distillation removes almost all substances from the water with the exception of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) that evaporate easily. To this end, some distillation systems are also equipped with carbon filters to remove the VOCs.
- The overall cost to set up water filtration at home will be high at first but the overall savings, over time, will be greater and you will also save money on your home water rates.
- Some of the largest companies in the bottled water industry have admitted their bottled water is nothing more than filtered tap water. The average cost of filtered water is around $0.03 – $0.07 per litre, so that means at just $2.00 for a bottle of water you can be paying up to 1,000 times the cost of tap water or around 100 times the cost of filtered water.
The overall comparison of the cost of tap water versus harvesting rainwater and filtering it appropriately is still more cost effective than purchasing bottled water. Putting an end to the production of plastic bottles and the harmful effects it has on the environment will also contribute to the overall savings for all consumers and future generations.
TIS sell a wide range of Davey Water Products filtration systems to suit any budget and any needs. If you have any queries at all about water filtration systems or filtering rainwater, please don’t hesitate to contact TIS using the Contact Form or phone 3245 6000.