Many people are happy to pay for bottled water, often in the belief that it is a better quality than water from the tap.
Australian consumer watchdog Choice says research conducted by Roy Morgan in 2015 showed 5.3 million Australians consume bottled water every week, and the number is increasing, especially among people aged 25-34. It is estimated to bring in more than $700 million for beverage companies.
However, a number of tests have shown that most people can't tell the difference between bottled water and tap water on taste alone. They choose the more expensive bottled water because they believe it is purer, healthier, or somehow better for their health.
Choice looked into this, and found that suppliers of bottled water were reluctant to give details of the source of their water. In one case, tests showed that the label on the bottle actually lied about the water source.
Earlier this year, Craig Reucassel of the ABC's “War on Waste” series tried a simple experiment. He offered people in the street a “new” brand of bottled water called Robinet, and asked them to taste it and give an opinion.
Many people said it was delicious and they would buy it, even though it was more expensive than other brands. They were then surprised to learn that Robinet is the French word for “tap”, and the water they had tasted was ordinary tap water.
Melbourne has some of the world’s best drinking water, which Melbourne Water tests regularly to ensure it meets strict water quality requirements. The tests include clarity, colour, and the presence of minerals, bacteria or contaminants.
The colour, taste and smell of our water can change throughout the year, depending on the reservoir it comes from, the demand, and the temperature.
At least Melbourne Water's “product labelling” can be trusted. To find out the facts about tap water in your area, visit www.melbournewater.com.au/community-and-education.