Tap Water Sources
In the U.S. about 30% of all people get their tap water from ground water sources, and about 70% of people get their tap water from surface water sources.
People in rural areas frequently drink water that comes from ground water pumped from a well. These wells tap into aquifer’s natural water reservoirs under the earth’s surface. Aquifers can be located deep within the ground, or rather close to the surface; they can be large, spanning several states, or small, extending only a few miles. Aquifers are replenished through rain and surface water, with the water being filtered as it travels through the ground.
Municipal drinking water, or tap water, is produced from either ground water sources or surface water sources. People in large cities frequently drink water that comes from surface water such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Considering the quality of the water, it is important to remember that rivers, lakes and reservoirs are fed through tributaries, which taken all together form a watershed, the total land area over which all water flows eventually into the lake, river or reservoir under consideration. Activities many miles away from the lake or reservoir that is used as a source can and will influence the quality of the drinking water if they occur in the same watershed.
Bottled Water Sources
The sources for bottled water can be split in two categories:
- Natural bottled water, which is ground water that is minimally processed and derives its distinct flavor and other characteristics from the unique composition of its ground water source.
- Processed bottled water, which is ground water or municipal water that is further processed and purified, and hence does not derive any value out of the specific composition of the source water, but rather from its purity.
Natural bottled water can be derived from a multitude of different water sources. All of these sources need to be naturally clean and well-protected, since none of these waters can be processed in any significant way in order to maintain their original purity. The various types of natural bottled water include:
- Natural mineral water originates from ground water sources that are naturally rich in minerals and where the original mineral composition found in this ground water is not altered at all.
- Spring water is from ground water springs whose mineral composition must be the same as that found at that found at the natural spring orifice.
- Artesian water or artesian well water is from a sealed aquifer from which the water naturally rises above the level of the ground water table due to the hydraulic pressure up-gradient to the water source.
- Well water is water taken from a well or borehole that taps into an aquifer.
Processed bottled water can be sourced from either tap water or ground water. However, in either case, the water is processed to further improve and purify it. Purification processes include distillation and reverse osmosis.
Filtered Water Sources
Filtered water is tap water that has been treated with a device that removes impurities.
Water may be filtered for preventative health reasons to eliminate harmful substances, or to improve the taste, color or odor of drinking water.
In some instances, water is filtered to remove or reduce contaminants and impurities such as lead and chlorine.