REMEMBER FREE TAP WATER? Does anyone drink that anymore? Somehow
we became a water bottle culture, preferring to pay a dollar or two than drink
dirty tap water.
So is it dirty? Absolutely not, says Lori Williams, general manager for the
Truckee Meadows Water Authority. Its all high quality, she
Most of our water, 85 percent, comes from the Truckee River, and the remainder
comes from groundwater wells. Its primarily snow melt, a pristine source
of water. Some people can taste a difference between surface (river) water and
well water, which has a higher concentration of dissolved solids.
Taste is a personal preference, Williams says. We have very
soft water, and if people arent used to it, they may not like its taste.
But water quality is never compromised. All water has trace amounts of
contaminants, even that $1 bottle. But all of it must meet EPA safe drinking
water standards. Those standards are the same, be it tap or bottle, anywhere
in the country. According to TMWAs 2003-2004 Water Quality Report, our
water contains well below the acceptable levels deemed safe by the EPA. TMWA
checks about 150 sites in its distribution system every month.
This means our water is some of the countrys best, according to the
Desert Research Institute. Alan McKay, research hydrogeologist with DRI, says
in both Fresno and Phoenix, which primarily get water from wells, old agricultural
methods have caused buildups of remnants like pesticides, resulting in lower
quality water. The water in Las Vegas is somewhat salty, because it comes from
the Colorado River.
Compared to most places, McKay says, Reno looks pretty darn
good. What about the mercury we hear about on the news?
We dont have mercury contamination in any of our water supplies,
says Williams. I think that comes from Nevadas history in mining,
and the amalgamation processes that removed gold and silver from ore. But we
dont have any of those concerns. So whats with the bottles?
McKay believes the push to stay hydrated by keeping water close is the reason.
I like our water quite a bit, actually, McKay says, and
Im a water guy. Bottled water now has to meet the same health
standards that a purveyor like TMWA has to meet, says Williams. There
should be no expectation that youre getting better quality from a bottle
... In fact, once that bottles opened and left in a warm car, its
probably not safe to drink anymore. Youve exposed it to bacteria and the
heat nurtures it. Youd be better off getting a fresh glass of water from
a tap or drinking fountain. So save your money, the free stuffs
Jessica Groach is a Reno-based freelance writer and an English instructor
at the University of Nevada, Reno.