The provision of tap water requires a massive infrastructure of piping, pumps, and water purification works. The cost of tap water is a small fraction of that of bottled water, often as little as 0.01%.
In most parts of the world, the same water supply that is used for drinking is also used for washing, flushing toilets (water closets), washing machines, and dishwashers. Experimental attempts have been made to introduce non-potable greywater or rainwater for these secondary uses.
In other parts of the world, tap water is not clean enough to drink. It may have to be boiled, filtered, or (more recently) ozonized. People who live in these parts of the world often prefer to purchase bottled water.
The availability of clean tap water brings major public health benefits. Usually, the same administration that provides tap water is also responsible for the removal and treatment before discharge or reclamation of wastewater.
In many areas, fluoride is added to the tap water as a means to improve public dental health. This remains a controversial issue in the health, freedoms and rights of the individual.
Tap Water Uses
According to a 1999 American Water Works Association Research Foundation study on residential end uses of water in the United States, Americans drink more than 1 glass of tap water per day. Daily indoor per capita water use in a typical single family home is 69.3 gallons (260 litres). Overall use falls into the following categories:
- Body cleanliness:
- Item washing:
- Faucets - 15.7%
- Leaks - 12.7%
- Other Domestic Uses - 2.2%
- US Environmental Protection Agency Drinking water page
- American Water Works Association for professionals in water production and distribution and other water fields.
- Bottled Water: Better than the Tap? - A Food and Drug Administration site, explains different sources & treatment of water in depth and compares them.
- E the Environmental Magazine piece on bottled water (Oct 2003).