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Environmental notes

Environmental Notes


With the heat of the summer upon us, we decided to take a look at that most important part of our diets … water. Water is essential to maintaining health, and to staying cool, but many people question the safety of water, and more people than ever are buying bottled water as a safe alternative.

What is the real cost of bottled water? Is it really safer than tap water? Is there an economical alternative for safe drinking water?

In checking the figures for Portsmouth(1), we discovered that the 2006 water rate is $1.67 per 100 cubic feet. However, the rate for waste-water, which is calculated by the amount of water taken into the home is $4.70 per 100 cubic feet. For each 100 cubic feet of water, the total cost is $5.37. There are 748 gallons of water in 100 cubic feet, which means that the total cost per gallon of water in Portsmouth is about $0.007 or about ¾ of one cent.

Bottled water at discount or department stores can cost anywhere from $1.18 per gallon (3 liter bottle of Poland Spring at Under Currents in Dover for $.89) to $4.00 per gallon for Evian (6-pack of 500 ml bottles for $3.00) at the same store.(2) It seems that many of us pay as much, or more, for drinking water as we do for gasoline.

According to the Sierra Club, (3) that water we purchase may not be as pristine or healthy as we are led to believe. Testing and quality are largely performed by the industry rather than the government, and outbreaks of illness have been noted with bottled water. Impurities ranging from Coliform Bacteria to Toluene and byproducts from chlorination have been found in bottled water. Some bottled water, even in brands such as Dasani and Aquafina come from the same sources as our tap water.

Where water in soft plastic bottles can have a “plastic” taste, it’s important to know that chemicals from the plastic can in some cases leech into the water, especially if the bottles are not kept cold. Some of these chemicals are xenoestrogens, which have been linked to breast cancer and other health concerns.(4)

None of this takes into account the environmental costs of thousands or millions of millions of plastic bottles; their construction or disposal. Even recycling them uses some energy.

Home water filtration is another option. A home filtration system can cost anywhere from $50.00 for the basic system, and about $30.00 for a filter with a usable life of 1000 gallons. Such a system brings the cost of pure water in the home to about $0.04 cents per gallon.

It’s important to know what we’re putting in our bodies; and in today’s economy, we’re all concerned about saving money. Not all bottled waters are equal; neither is all municipal water.

Note: This article will be posted on, along with some ways to save water. --dee
(1) Porsmouth water Sewer Rate Study

(2) Prices at Under Currents / Mardens in Dover, NH, 07/23/2008





Here are some practical ways to reduce your water costs:

1. Do you have a lawn? Might a more natural yard, with plants other than grass work for you?

2. How do you water your lawn or grass? Rainwater is free, and most of the rainwater from your downspoat or roof likely goes into the street, down the storm drains and into the streams. You can capture this water and save it to water lawns or gardens.

3. Captured water might also be used to wash your cars. Treated and filtered, it might also be used for showering and other uses in the home. (Check with building codes for any regulations regarding multiple water sources.)

4. Not all water that is used in the home might have to gow to the sewer. Depending on how you wash clothes (the types of detergents used, etc.) you could use that water in your garden or for other purposes.

5. Efficient toilets and water-saving shower heads can have a major impact on water use.

The point is that a creative use of water results in less environmental impact. Not all of our water needs to come from our wells or from a municipal source. If we can retain the water that comes to us from nature and use it, we rely less on sources that cost us. If we can avoid putting all the water we use down the drain, municipal disposal costs go down. This good for our environment and our pocketbooks as well.