Aquafina Changes Label, Admits It's Tap Water


Aquafina, PepsiCo’s best-selling bottled water, is changing its label to clarify its true source: city water supplies. The labels have never claimed to be spring water, but the price, packaging, and placement in stores apparently made enough of the world believe it was.

A group called Corporate Accountability International has been pressuring bottled water sellers to curb what it calls misleading marketing practices. The group has criticized PepsiCo over its blue Aquafina label with a mountain logo as perpetuating the misconception that the water comes from spring sources.

Aquafina is the single biggest bottled water brand, and its bottles are now labeled “P.W.S.” The new labels will spell out “public water source.”

So they still avoid the T word — tap — and “public water source” is still somewhat vague. (Someone might think the water comes from a public spring or well? Maybe?)

$11 billion of bottled water — combining spring water and purified tap water — was sold last year in the U.S. alone.

Aquafina Labels To Show Source: Tap Water [CBS News]
(Photo: gordasm)

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  1. 3drage says:

    I tend to buy bottled water when I’m going on a hike, or have forgotten to plan ahead and bring my own water with me. I’ve never had any misgivings that bottled water is ultra pure, but it’s a handy alternative to grabbing a soda when you’re thirsty. I’m not a fan of the city water where I live, but I recently got a fridge with water filtration and it’s saved me a ton of money compared to the bottled water I used to get.

  2. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I can’t stand Aquafina. I have a sensitivity to flouride, which in varying degrees in public water (not gonna get on the rant about that). It actually varies in Pepsi products depending on what plant it was bottled in. Anyway, first time I had it, I realized it was tap water. Didn’t taste as good, and gave me a bad reaction. I’ll stick with Deer Park and Poland Spring.

  3. jrdnjstn78 says:

    EEWWWW! Aquafina is not that great, I hate it. I’d rather drink Dasani or Ozarka. My tap water is alot better then Aquafina.

  4. spyrte24 says:

    I’ll gladly drink tap water rather than drinking “pure, clean water” that was stolen from a poor country where good water is hard to find.

    I’ve never drank Aquafina before, but I have no reason to. I can just walk into my kitchen and turn on the facet.

  5. CumaeanSibyl says:

    My city is processing and bottling its own tap water to sell at events and suchlike. It’s actually pretty good stuff, and it’ll make them some money — smart move.

  6. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    Personally, I’d rather drink “purified” or “filtered” (read: cleaned) water than “natural spring” water or regular old tap. I like my water without rust, chlorine, and animal droppings, thank you very much.

  7. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @jrdnjstn78: Word has it that Dasani is doing the same thing:

    [www.commondreams.org]

    Further proof that it’s a matter of taste, not facts.

  8. sleze69 says:

    It’s no better than Dasani which is bottled in North Philadelphia(near Temple University).

    If you are curious as to the locations surrounding the dasani plant, do a google search for Kensington Philadelphia and/or philadelphia badlands.

  9. iantenna says:

    on a related note some douche brought st. pauli girl non-alcoholic to a party on saturday and put that shit on the same shelf as all the other beers. i was two deep before i realized my mistake. if you’re a brand that makes normal beer i need more than “non-alcoholic” in tiny print at the bottom of the label. killed my night.

  10. DeeJayQueue says:

    Dasani has ingredients other than water. Stuff like Magnesium Phosphate… I wonder of aquafina has that stuff in it as well.

  11. iantenna says:

    @AlteredBeast: mandrake, do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face?

  12. Antediluvian says:

    I always took the lack of a definitive statement of source as indication it’s not spring water. And when it says, “purified filtered water” or somesuch nonsense, that too means “not spring water.” And since the local Market Basket sells both Aquafina (or some similar brand) and Poland Spring for the same price, IF I have to buy bottled water I’ll buy the Poland Spring.

    I don’t like to use bottled water because it’s expensive and wasteful, so if I have the bottles I’ll keep them and refill them. You just need to alert guests browsing in the fridge that some bottles are refilled.

  13. e-gadgetjunkie says:

    The only legal reason a bottled water company has to declare their source on the bottle is if it’s from a natural spring and not a municipal water source. I’ve always assumed Aquafina isn’t from a spring since they’ve never listed a source.

  14. homerjay says:

    MMmmm…. Unflavored Pepsi.

  15. Cowboys_fan says:

    There has never been any evidence I’ve read to even suggest bottled water is better than tap water, and for that reason, I have never purchased bottled water, other than for water coolers. Serves people right to be dumb enough to buy something you can have for free. I would rather burn the dollar bill to avoid giving these idiots(companies) any more money.

  16. Ausoleil says:

    It might come as a surprise to many folks that there are purportedly negative health effects from drinking “pure” (de-ionized) water. This study by the World Health Organization discusses the subject:

    [www.who.int]

    Like all matters of health science, this is of course rigorously debated in some circles, but at the end of the day, both sides of the argument can agree on two things: 1) Life will kill you and 2) too much of anything is bad for you. Even pure water.

  17. Wasn’t the Lewis Black joke that Pepsi or Coke’s bottled water is so bad that they won’t use it to make their soda with?
    “And that’s not funny because it’s probably true.”

  18. revmatty says:

    @antediluvian:
    I’m not sure what you mean by bottled water being wasteful. As long as you drink it, that is.

    I just installed a water filter at home this morning. The crap that was in the aerator that I took off the kitchen faucet was amazing. Pieces of rocks or minerals that were at least 1/8 of an inch around or larger. That’s why I don’t drink unfiltered tap water. The screen on the aerator catches the bigger stuff, but there’s a lot of smaller stuff that gets through.

    I don’t particularly care if it’s spring water or filtered public source water.

  19. Indecision says:

    I have some Aquafina here that I bought almost two weeks ago. The bottles are clearly labeled “Source: Latham, NY Municipal.”

    Doesn’t bother me one bit. It’s filtered, so whatever. I usually put stuff in it anyway (those single-serving powdered drink mixes).

  20. bambino says:

    It’s all about ‘mouth-feel’.

  21. bambino says:

    @revmatty: The plastic is what some consider wasteful.

  22. Raanne says:

    @revmatty:
    are you sure thats not just scale that has built up over time? like in a tea kettle?

  23. Starfury says:

    I watched the news reports on this. Said for the cost of 1 bottle of water you can refill it 5000 (five thousand) times from the tap.

    I like my local water and HATE paying for bottles. We’ll refill/reuse the bottle until it’s wearing out/dirty (juice) and then recycle.

  24. jharrell says:

    Reverse Osmosis filtration removes any ‘tap’ from tap water… water is water is water – after it is filtered it is no different that any other source, unless they add back in minerals to ‘enhance’ taste. One such mineral is Magnesium Phosphate.

  25. Youthier says:

    I hate, hate drinking water. I used to be able to handle tap water back when I lived with my parents and we had well water with all the pesticides and such seeping into it (my grandfather who lives next door just dug a new well significantly shallower than township regulations allow, citing the fact that he’ll be dead soon anyway).

    The only water I can drink now that I live in the city is Ice Mountain so I suspect that it’s probably not very clean either.

  26. Ncisfan says:

    Alot of Cheep bottled water brands are from city sources: Aquafina, Dasanni, Dejà Blue, Propel, and various store brands

  27. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    Ok so just a question, I read somewhere can’t remember where or even how valid this info is. Those plastic bottles are meant for 1 time use only. That supposedly if you keep refilling it that chemicals leach out into the water or whatever you have in the bottle. Any info? And please before anyone flames me I could do the research but I only get a few min. here and there to use the internets…

  28. obbie says:

    if im not mistaken…..

    both Dasani and Aquafina are both filtered through reverse osmosis. This process removes a lot of the junk from the “tap water” and results in much nicer water. However, I think Dasani adds minerals to the water anyway. That is why I prefer Aquafina.

  29. vanilla-fro says:

    When will dasani tell us that it is just coke prior to the syrup being added. Really, people I know Penn & Teller are just comedians (not even good ones) but on there Bullshit show they uncovered that a large portion of the bottled waters are tap/municipal water

  30. vanilla-fro says:

    @myself: Read comments before commenting.

  31. MallRat says:

    I don’t see what the big deal is- it’s already known that their water comes from a public water source- they’re just making the label clearer. As long as the water is properly purified (I’ve recently read that Aquafina uses a pretty rigorous 7 step process) then why should it matter where it comes from in the first place?

  32. dbeahn says:

    @obbie: Bah. Reverse Osmosis removed the fluoride and chlorine from tap water. Another way to do this just as effectively is to leave water sit in a cup/bucket/pan (whatever) overnight. Both of those additives are gases, and will escape the water as soon as there’s a chance to.

    Or boil it – same result, faster timeframe.

    @vanilla-fro: re: Penn and Teller. They also uncovered that 99.8% of people that claim to be able to “taste the difference” are lying bastards ;)

  33. amsmith.dmycm says:

    Ok, I know I live in the “sticks”, but the AM station in my town is actually saying that the mountains on the label are misleading everyone and causing the belief that Aquafina water comes from a mountain spring.
    Now it may just be me, but mountains do not a spring water make….

  34. Antediluvian says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer:
    [www.snopes.com]
    Claim: Plastic water bottles have been proved to break down into carcinogenic compounds when reused.
    Status: False.
    http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/petbottles.asp

    C’mon people, that’s what the internet’s for — spreading lies and then trying to fix them.

    And it took me less time to search for and find the item than it did to write this message about it.

  35. Antediluvian says:

    @revmatty:
    Bottled water is “wasteful” in that it requires large amounts of petroleum products to produce and transport, especially when compared to the amount needed to get water out of your faucet. Between the plastic container manufacturing and the long-distance hauling, it’s pretty damn wasteful.

    The gritty material you found in the aerator of your faucet is almost certainly, as someone else pointed out, scale or lime. It’s dissolved minerals that have collected on your filter. Clean it out and you’re good to go. Rocks or pebbled can’t get to your house from the water source because they won’t flow up the pipes.

    Get a Brita or some other filter if your water doesn’t taste as good as you’d like. Personally, I paid extra to get a new refrigerator with in-the-door ice and water dispensing because I like chilled water. If find I drink much more of it if it’s readily available.

  36. nkwu says:

    all bottled waters that I have seen clearly list their source(at least their source location. While I agree with the misleading marketting, I don’t see wh y there was such a big fuss over Dasani and now Aquafina. They never said it was spring water. People jsut tended to assume bottled water was spring water.

    And while there might not be conclusive or a guarantee that plastic breaks down to carcinogenic compounds when used – there is definitely evidence that plastic DOES break down over time or at least leaches.

  37. Maulleigh says:

    Purified tap water doesn’t bother me. I’d just hate to go to a developing nation and get sick drinking tap water.

  38. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Antediluvian: Gee sorry for not being omnipotent: thats why I said I could research it but I was busy…sorry. But thanks for the link I will check it out.

  39. night_sky says:

    @dbeahn: “Another way to do this just as effectively is to leave water sit in a cup/bucket/pan (whatever) overnight. Both of those additives are gases, and will escape the water as soon as there’s a chance to.”

    Umm, no. I have fish (and have had them for years) and the only way to get rid of chlorine is to use a water conditioner liquid that gets rid of it in seconds. You may be thinking of chloramine which is different from chlorine.

    BTW, RO water doesn’t get rid of the bad (contaminates, sand etc.), it also gets rid of the good (trace minerals). Our bodies need minute traces of these minerals that water provides.

  40. WV.Hillbilly says:

    @night_sky:
    it’s just the opposite. Chloramine is non volatile. It doesn’t evaporate quickly.
    Chlorine is very volatile, so it will evaporate very quickly from the source water.

    Yes, water conditioner will rid water of chlorine quickly, if you’re in a hurry, but letting it sit overnight works just as well.

  41. shch says:

    Do people honestly stop in the gas station to grab a bottle of water and pour over the labels to determine which comes from the purest source? I mean if so, I stand corrected but I typically grab a bottle of water if it’s really hot and I’m walking around and just need a quick rehydrating… I usually either grab poland spring because I’ve tasted it and liek the taste or whatever is on sale. Maybe people are more picky than me about this, I don’t know.

    That being said, any regulations requiring companies to be more honest to consumers is definitely a step in the write direction. I just figured something like this is kind of a duh sort of thing.

  42. bedofnails says:

    The Skittles people have a bunch of explaining to do.

  43. gamble says:

    I prefer purified bottled water over spring water because I like my water to be as tasteless as possible. The spring waters often have an aftertaste that makes me feel thirsty again. We have a reverse osmosis water filter though and I find it to be just as good.

  44. EtherealStrife says:

    To all you advocates of tap water, FOR SHAME! Reclaimed water is purified and undergoes all kinds of filtrations before being distributed, and the piping is usually modern (installed in the last decade)! Finally, it doesn’t deplete fresh water sources like tap water does.

    DISCLAIMER: not all reclaimed water is potable. Check with your local water provider.

  45. gamabunta says:

    @jrdnjstn78: You do realize Dasani is filtered tap water as well right?

  46. CommenterKeen says:

    Ok I’ve been reading these articles for the last few days and I gotta say, “PLEASE STOP WRITING THESE POSTS WITH A NEGATIVE SPIN!”

    First of all, they never claimed to be “spring water.” Anyone who actually reads the label and uses their brain realized already that it is water that has been purified. As some have already commented on, it doesn’t matter what the source is if they are taking everything out of it anyway!

    Second, I have no idea what some of these people are thinking when they saying it tasted funny to them or had fluorine in it; it is pure de-ionized water!!! At my university, we do a “water lab” in gen chem every year, and every year someone uses an aquafina bottle for their sample and finds ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN IT! It is the most boring lab of the year for the poor student that waits till the last minute to pick a sample and uses their bottle they have in their bag as a last resort. While others can see some dried mineral deposits from the minerals naturally present in spring water (or added to give taste), there is no residue at all left behind by the aquafina.

  47. Antediluvian says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer: My point was that you didn’t try hard enough to avoid spreading an urban legend by phrasing your question the way you did. I’m not irked that you’re not omnipotent. I’m irked that didn’t try a quick search first, then ask for help. That was not a flame.


    The top 5+ results from a Google search for plastic water bottles cancer all dispel the urban legend / email hoax:
          [www.google.com]

    A search for plastic water bottles chemicals returns a more mixed results, but with the negative evidence pointing more at Lexan and similar hard clear plastics, not the PET of bottled water bottles, and is aimed more towards embryos:
          [www.google.com]

  48. I like Fiji water because it comes in those square-ish bottles. Mmmm. Square-ish bottles. Makes your water taste great!

    My brother keeps trying to get me to buy the Big Berkey Water Filtration System (don’t worry, he’s not a survivalist). It’s beautiful and expensive. Do any commenters have one?

  49. MrEvil says:

    Everyone should see that episode of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit! about bottled water. They had a very excellent and contrived experiment where they sold some rediculously expensive bottled water at a fancy restaurant. What was in the bottles? Municipal water out of a garden hose. Of course the diners didn’t have to pay for the expensive water. But people that they showed on camera could taste a difference in the different “Brands” of water despite no actual difference other than packaging.

    Bottled water is good to keep around in case of emergency, but the taste argument and “more pure” is unfounded really. Mind you municipal water is regulated by the EPA whereas bottled water is regulated by the FDA (it’s considered a food product) and the FDA only regulates bottled waters that are sold across state lines.

    At least bottled water isn’t a gross waste of water like running your lawn sprinklers in the dead of winter.

  50. night_sky says:

    @WV.Hillbilly: Thanks for the correction. I had it mixed up. My comment is in reverse.

  51. skechada says:

    @Antediluvian: As your google linkage indicates, there’s hardly a consensus on the potential negative effects of various chemicals in the different types of plastic on humans. There’s certainly not enough evidence for this to qualify as an urban legend, either way.

    I work in the plastics industry, and personally drink from polycarbonate (trade name: Lexan) water bottle, although I used to buy Aquafina bottles (due to their wide mouth, which I prefer) to re-use/wash/re-use for weeks. I still don’t feel completely safe about either type of plastic, after reading various articles promoting and/or dispelling the “myth” of chemicals leaching into the water after repeated uses.

    Needless to say, it’s a valid concern in my opinion as no clear consensus has been established on either side of the issue.

  52. jrdnjstn78 says:

    @gamabunta:

    That’s ok because I like the taste. I’m not one to read the label. I do have to say that it has been a few months since I have had a Dasani….I don’t want to spend $1.18 on a 20oz. bottle of water. So it has been awhile since I bought Dasani.

    I did buy a 5 gallon jug of Ozarka water so I can reuse with my tap water. I like it and my kids like it and it has a convient spout at the bottom for the water to come out. Good old cold tap water.

  53. Blueskylaw says:

    Aquafina is taken from 11 different municipal water supplies because they sell about 800 million dollars worth a year, one source could not handle that volume. The water costs them from fractions of a penny to about 3 pennies per gallon. In 1997 sales jumped more than 126%. Why you say? Because of the marketing power of Pepsi and NOTHING else. Here is the definition of purified water.
    Water taken from lakes, rivers, or underground springs that has undergone some form of treatment. It can be produced by “distilation, deionisation, reverse osmosis or other suitable processes”. It can be chemically treated in order to have some components disappear. Waters with different components can be mixed. Considering the way it is produced, there is LITTLE DIFFERENCE between PURIFIED WATER and MUNICIPAL TAP water except in the DISTRIBUTION METHOD and RETAIL PRICE.
    You may take a deep breath now and exhale.

  54. Blueskylaw says:

    Aquafina is taken from 11 different municipal water supplies because they sell about 800 million dollars worth a year, one source could not handle that volume.
    The water costs them from fractions of a penny to about 3 pennies per gallon. In 1997 sales jumped more than 126%. Why you say? Because of the marketing power of Pepsi and NOTHING else.
    Here is the definition of purified water.
    Water taken from lakes, rivers, or underground springs that has undergone some form of treatment. It can be produced by “distilation, deionisation, reverse osmosis or other suitable processes”. It can be chemically treated in order to have some components disappear. Waters with different components can be mixed. Considering the way it is produced, there is LITTLE DIFFERENCE between PURIFIED WATER and MUNICIPAL TAP water except in the DISTRIBUTION METHOD and RETAIL PRICE.
    You may take a deep breath now and exhale.

  55. Blueskylaw says:

    Sorry, first post did not go through for 5 minutes so I reposted. Jet lag?

  56. thedreamingtree says:

    I’m going to get a Berkey water filter as soon as I can afford it. It is supposedly so good that it can filter pond water. Also, you can get a filter that filters out the flouride. Meanwhile, I just use my Brita water pitcher and make do. But I am not paying for bottled tap water.

  57. Blueskylaw says:

    @jrdnjstn78:
    In early 2004, Coca-Cola launched its Dasani brand of bottled water in Britain. Dasani had already established itself as one of the most popular bottled waters in the United States.
    Within weeks, however, Coke had a disaster in the making. The British press discovered that Dasani was nothing more than processed tap water and ran a series of indignant stories suggesting that consumers were being hoodwinked by the U.S. beverage giant.
    Shortly afterward, a cancer-causing chemical — bromate — was discovered in Dasani bottles produced in Britain. The water was quickly withdrawn from store shelves and plans were canceled to market Dasani elsewhere in Europe, which to this day remains a Dasani-free zone.

    Aquafina=Dasani

  58. Blueskylaw says:

    In San Francisco, city officials collected nearly 34,000 samples from the water supply in 2005 and ran more than 100,000 water-quality tests. “All compliance monitoring results met or exceeded federal and state drinking water regulations,” the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission reported.
    That same year, the commission held a blind taste test near the Ferry Building. The 300 participants were offered samples of two popular bottled-water brands (Crystal Geyser and AQUIFINA) and local tap water.
    Half said they preferred the tap water. Twenty-five percent picked bottled water. And 25 percent said they couldn’t tell the difference.

  59. Onouris says:

    Coke did the same thing in England with their bottled water. It’s not being sold here anymore and they lost a crap load of money on it.

    Say no more.

  60. Onouris says:

    Althought it seems blueskylaw already did say more about it above.

  61. ChuckECheese says:

    Where I live, there is an inland desalination plant to create drinking water. But they still mix the treated water with a bit of the well water, making for a nasty mix–it tastes metallic and salty. Bottled water FTW!