A PepsiCo water scandal illustrates the value of tap water. Especially in Denver.


Editor's Note: This blog was first published on the Denver Water Blog on Nov. 12.


At Denver Water, we make it our business to keep up with the latest water news, locally and around the world.

PepsiCo uses rigorously filtered tap water in Aquafina bottles.

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One item that crossed our desk was this so-called PepsiCo “scandal.” The soft-drink giant has been taking its share of abuse lately after executives at Aquafina — owned by PepsiCo — admitted taking tap water (gasp!) and sending it through their rigorous, state-of-the-art purification process.

Well, duh. Forty-five percent of all bottled water in the United States comes from the tap.

This story has been in and out of the news for over a decade. You may recall:

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In 2004, The Today Show asked the jarring question, “Is your bottled water coming from a faucet?

In 2007, ABC News dug deep to get PepsiCo to admit its water comes from the tap.

Now, eight years later, here they come again.

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Frankly, the attacks are silly and a little offensive to us, as we are proud providers of tasty tap water to 1.3 million people.

So why no love for tap water, despite all the taste tests, exhaustive water quality analyses and countless studies proving tap water is perfectly clean and safe?

In the water-utility world, many of us have taken a fairly hard stance in favor of tap water, at the expense of bottled water. At Denver Water, we even threw down the bottled vs. tap gauntlet this summer. To recap:

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  • Tap water is every bit as safe as bottled water.
  • Bottled water costs almost 3,000 times as much as tap water.
  • Many bottled water companies, such as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola use tap water. (Coke somehow avoided the attacks on PepsiCo, even though the company does the same thing.)
  • Denver Water’s water is sampled 16,000 times and undergoes 66,000 tests per year to ensure it remains of the highest quality.
  • On average, Denver Water customers pay less than $3 for every 1,000 gallons of water.
  • Tap water must adhere to more regulations than bottled water. 
  • And let’s not forget about those bottles. According to Brita, Americans drink about 48 billion (with a B!) bottles of water each year — enough to stretch around the planet 230 times. That’s quite a few plastic bottles, which are terrible for the environment.

OK, so we’re admittedly a little passionate about our local water. But, we also know that bottled water serves an invaluable purpose around the world and in times of crisis, especially when water is scarce or unsafe. We even provide bottled water to our own customers during emergencies that create extended water shortages.

But, when the water is clean, tap water is hardly something to avoid. In fact, particularly in Denver, it should be celebrated as one of the greatest achievements in the history of human civilization.

Not exaggerating.

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