The main difference in the water from your faucet and bottled water is the source. Water from your faucet comes from a local source, where ground or surface water is treated for contaminants at a municipal plant before it is sent through pipes to your home. In the case of some rural residents, their water is drawn directly from the ground through nearby wells.
Bottled water can come from a wide variety of sources ranging from artesian wells to public water supplies anywhere across the country. While some may drink bottled water thinking it comes from a more pristine source than their city water supply, this is not necessarily the case. Federal law sets standards for the quality of drinking water, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitoring public water systems and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees bottled water. Some bottled water is treated more than tap water and some is not treated at all.
Just as one can check with local officials to see local annual water quality reports, one should also check the label of bottled water to learn of its source, possible contaminants and dissolved minerals, and how it is treated.
Another difference can be the taste. Bottled water may not have the disagreeable odor and taste occasionally associated with some public drinking water,. However, the lack of an odor or taste does not mean that the bottled water is cleaner.
Another difference many critics of bottled water point to is its cost to the consumer compared to tap water and the impact on the environment of the water’s plastic or glass packaging.