Drink Tap

DC Water collects hundreds of water samples each week throughout the District to ensure the delivery of affordable, high-quality tap water. Bottled water involves significant economic and environmental costs. DC Water is promoting tap water, protecting the environment and saving people money.

DC Water 2012 Taste Test Challenge Series

Can you tell a difference between tap water and bottled water? When asked to taste blind samples of tap water and bottled water, more than half of people rank tap water as better tasting or do not taste a difference between the two samples, according to more than 800 participants in the 2012 DC Water Taste Test Challenge Series.

During the series, many participants were surprised to learn that tap water tastes better than bottled water and also meets stricter standards. Only about half of participants were able to identify the correct sample as tap water. Despite a preference for tap water, more than half of people reported drinking bottled water at home. This means people are spending at least 100 times more for bottled water when their tap water is only a penny per gallon.

We encourage you to put down the plastic and turn on the tap. Grab a reusable bottle and fill up for free.

Tap Water Bottled Water
Economics $10 = Cost for 1,000 gallons $1,000 = Cost for 1,000 gallons
In the early 1970s, the federal government contributed 70 percent of the funds used for water infrastructure improvement, but this share dropped to less than 5 percent by 2007 In the past 20 years, revenues have climbed from $2.4 billion in the early 1990s to over $10.5 billion today
A $23 billion gap exists in investments for water infrastructure in the U.S. It costs cities and states at least $42 million each year to dispose of 1 million tons of discarded PET plastic water bottles
Investing in public water could provide 2,850 jobs and generate $635 million in GDP for every $100 million devoted to water infrastructure Bottlers are profiting from underfunded public water systems
Regulations & Oversight Strict regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - Safe Drinking Water Act Less stringent regulation by the Food and Drug Administration and does not regulate bottled water that is produced and sold in the same state
Required to test and report water quality results to EPA for hundreds of samples every week, month and year FDA was found to have only 2.6 full time positions to inspect and regulate thousands of bottled water facilities in the U.S.
DC Water collects 10,000 samples and conducts more than 30,000 tests per year - water is monitored 24/7 Less stringent testing and transparency
The Potomac River (DC tap water source) is routinely monitored Not required to monitor source water or label bottles with information of where they get their water
DC Water is required to issue a public Annual Drinking Water Quality Report Not required to report water quality results to consumers
DC Water is required by strict regulations to notify the public if violations occur in testing , reporting or drinking water standards Not always required to report violations of standards or recall products if the product is at risk for contamination
Environment With a reusable bottle, consumers can choose tap water and eliminate bottled water waste Only 25 percent of plastic bottles are actually recycled and the other 75 percent (1 million tons) end up landfills, roadside litter or make their way into our waterways
Reusable water bottles reduce the number of plastic bottles littering our neighborhoods and floating in the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers People in the U.S. drink and discard more than half a billion bottles of water each week - enough bottles to circle the Earth five times
DC's distribution system depends on gravity, so minimal energy is required for water delivery from the treatment plant to your tap It requires 2,000 times the amount of energy to produce and distribute bottled water compared to producing and distributing tap water
The environmentally, sustainable option - reduce your waste and the production of PET plastic 54 million barrels of oil are used to make and transport plastic water bottles each year - enough to fuel three million cars a year
Filtering tap water is an alternative for consumers and creates less waste than plastic bottles Nearly half (44 percent) of bottled water is provided by municipal water utilities, in other words it's bottled tap water

Source: Tapping Congress to Get Off the Bottle. (2011) Corporate Accountability International.

How much energy does bottled water require? Imagine filling one quarter of each bottle with oil.
- Corporate Accountability International

DC Water is Putting down the Plastic

DC Water Offers to Help Congress Cut Budget and Save Environment
General Manager George Hawkins sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner about congressional spending on bottled water. Read the letter.


DC Water is partnering with TapIt, a city-wide water bottle refilling network that is successfully established in major cities across the U.S. - www.tapitwater.com. TapIt is an innovative network of District restaurants and cafes that aims to promote public access to drinking water and eliminate bottled water waste. District TapIt partners serve as locations for the public to stop by and refill their water bottles at no cost.

The Taste Test Challenge

DC Water conducts taste test challenges at public events throughout the District. Participants sample two water samples and must attempt to identify each sample as bottled water or tap water. Based on 2010 results, more than half of the participants thought tap water tasted better than bottled water or were unable to taste a difference between the two samples. Less than half of the participants were able to identify the correct sample as District tap water.

DC Water Tap Water Pledge

In 2010, bottled water was removed from all vending machines in DC Water facilities in the District. DC Water staff is provided free reusable water bottles and encouraged to sign the Tap Water Pledge not to drink bottled water at work.

Spreading the Word

DC Water is sharing the message about bottled water with people throughout the District. You will see DC Water vehicles with decals highlighting the benefits of tap water. Here's what we're saying:

Spreading the Word
Spreading the Word
Others are Putting down the Plastic

The Story of Bottled Water

Think Outside the Bottle - Corporate Accountability International

Sustainability at American University

What We Do