Bottled water comparison

How does bottled water compare to tap water?

OWASA provides reliable, high-quality drinking water to our customers.  However, some customers may prefer bottled water over tap water.  The information below is provided to help our customers make an informed decision when choosing their drinking water.

Is bottled water safer than tap water?

Not necessarily. Some bottled water is treated more than tap water, and some bottled water is treated less than tap water or not treated at all. For information on how bottled water is treated, tested and its quality, we encourage you to contact the company that bottles the water.

OWASA drinking water is strictly regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which sets standards for tap water provided by public water systems.  For more information about drinking water quality regulations and water quality testing, visit our webpage on water quality, testing and regulations.

Bottled water is subject to standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which include contaminant limits equivalent to those established by the EPA for public drinking water. The FDA standards also require testing, but do not specify the frequency of sampling or require reporting of test results. The FDA’s Website notes that the FDA inspects bottled water plants under its general food safety program and contracts with states to perform some bottled water plant inspections.

Like OWASA water, bottled water that meets the FDA’s standards is safe for almost everyone to drink. The exception is that people with weak immune systems may need to drink specially treated water on the advice of their physician or other health care professional. For more information about water and health click here.

Bottled water can be valuable in emergency situations. Some people prefer bottled water because of personal choice, convenience and aesthetic reasons, but bottled water usually costs much more than tap water on a per gallon basis. 

How much does bottled water cost compared to OWASA tap water?

Bottled water varies widely in cost. If you buy it in gallon containers, the cost may be less than $1 per gallon. If you buy brand-name bottled water, a price of $10.69 for 24 bottles with 16.9 ounces of water is equivalent to $3.37 per gallon.

OWASA tap water: For a typical residential household using 4,000 gallons of water per month, the average cost for one gallon of tap water, including the cost of sewer service, is about 1.8 cents per gallon.  OWASA is a non-profit, public agency and our rates are calculated to cover the cost of service to treat and deliver high-quality drinking water to our customers.