“It is convenient to pick up a bottle of water when going to thegym, when your child has a sports game or before hiking,” shesaid. Good flavor or convenience doesn’t come cheap. Bottled watercosts $1.50 on average for a 12-ounce serving. Convenient In 2001, over five billion gallons of bottled drinking water weresold in the United States. Health, convenience and taste rankhigh on the list of reasons people are choosing bottled waterover tap, said Judy Harrison, an extension foods specialist withthe University of Georgia College of Family and ConsumerSciences. A healthy alternative By April ReeseUniversity of Georgia While the types of water may vary, she said, there are noguarantees that any one type is better than the other. Mineral water is water from an underground source that containsat least 250 parts per million total dissolved solids. But even though the water may taste different, it doesn’t meanthat its quality level is any different, she said. Purity levels “Depending on where you live water will be different because ofthe different minerals that are found in that region,” Harrisonsaid. “We’ve all traveled to places, tried to drink the tapwater, and found that it just tasted terrible to us. This is oneof the times that bottled water becomes a good choice.” “Bottled water is a healthy alternative to high-sugar carbonateddrinks,” she said. “I think that’s one reason why people areturning more and more to bottled water.”The human body needs 64 ounces of water every day to help flushaway impurities. By substituting water for soda, the body canget more of what it needs, she said. Just like food items, bottled water products are regulated by theU.S. Food and Drug Administration. That means it is up to themanufacturer to make sure the product is safe and wholesome andthat the label on the product tells the truth about what is inthat product and where it came from, said Harrison. Spring water comes from an underground formation from which thewater flows naturally to the surface. The FDA also sets standards for bottled water that divides thewater into categories based on the origin of the water. Bottledwater typically comes from one of the following four sources: Artesian well water comes from a well that taps an aquifer, thelayer of underground porous rock, sand and earth where watercollects. When tapped, the “artesian pressure” in the aquiferpushes the water up and can push it to the surface. A big reason bottled water is so popular is because it’sconvenient. Flavor consistency is another reason for the increasedpopularity. “Bottled water has a good taste or flavor that is consistent fromone type or brand of water to the next so you can always count onhaving bottled water that has good flavor to drink,” Harrisonsaid. Certain treatments are allowed for bottled water just as they arefor municipal water supplies. The value of bottled water, she says, is actually in the eye ofthe consumer. “Bottled water manufacturers can add antimicrobial agents such aschlorine for safety and fluoride for strong, healthy teeth,”Harrison said. “If added, these will be listed on the productlabel.” Well water is water from a hole bored or drilled into the ground,which taps an aquifer. “There are levels set on how much of a particular contaminant canbe in the water,” she said. “That is also true for municipaldrinking water. So in most cases, as far as what’s in the water,it is really not a lot different from the municipal drinkingwater.” Americans continue to turn away from the tap and toward thebottle when it comes to drinking water. And concerns over safetyisn’t the main reason, say University of Georgia experts.