©2016 Mahoning Valley Water Inc.  What Kind of Bottled Water Is It?       If it's bottled, it's better.  That's what more and more consumers believed when they began buying bottled water for its taste and quality.      With the growing popularity of bottled water, however, rumors began to circulate that bottled water was just tap water in a bottle, or sometimes worse.  There is still a lot of confusion about how much better bottled water is than tap water, and what kinds of water are available.      To address this concern, the International Bottled Water Association petitioned the federal government in 1988 to provide clearer guidelines and standards for bottled water labeling.      While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for ensuring that public water systems meet minimum standards for protecting public health, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water because it is classified as a food.  The FDA is responsible for overseeing the safety of bottled water which, like other foods, must be processed, packaged, shipped and stored in a safe and sanitary manner, and be truthfully and accurately labeled.      In December of 1993, the FDA proposed standard definitions for various terms used on the labels of bottled water such as "Artesian", "distilled", "mineral", "purified", "spring", and "well".      In addition to defining several terms, the FDA proposal addresses various other labeling concerns as well.  For example, water bottled from municipal water supplies must be clearly labeled as such.  The requirement would be dropped if the municipal water was processed and treated so that it could be labeled as "distilled" or "purified" water.      The proposal also requires accurate labeling of bottled waters marketed for infants.  Labeling for such water must indicate that it is not sterile.    The label would have to state that it should be used as directed by a physician or according to infant formula preparation instructions.      The FDA published the final rule on December 1, 1994 and the rule became effective on May 30, 1995. Six Types Of Water      To be labeled "artesian water" according to FDA regulations, the water must come from a well that taps a confined aquifer (a water-bearing rock, a rock formation, or a group of rocks) which stands above the normal water table.  Underground pressure forces the water to the surface through pipes drilled through the upper confining layer of rock.  In other wells, that water is either pumped or drawn in containers to ground level.      "Distilled water" is considered bottled water that has been produced by a process of distillation - vaporizing water and then condensing it in a way that leaves it free of dissolved minerals.      The new FDA regulation defines "mineral water", previously exempt from regulation, as bottled water with at least 250 ppb total dissolved solids.  The water must come from a source tapped at one or more bore holes or springs, originating from a geologically and physically protected underground water source.  Mineral springs are generated deep underground where, under intense heat and pressure, calcium, iron, potassium, sodium and other minerals are leached from the surrounding rock.  Natural mineral water can be either still or effervescent (impregnated with carbon dioxide gas).      To be identified as "purified water" on its' label, the bottled water must be produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or other use of membrane filters and meet U.S. Pharmacopeia's most recent definition of purified water.      Under the FDA definition, the words "spring water" on the bottled water label must refer to water that has been collected from an underground formation from which the water flows naturally to the surface, or from a bore hole that taps the spring and is located near where the spring emerges.      In spite of what bottlers might print on their labels, the Natural Spring Water Association states that claiming water that is drawn from a pipe in the ground near the spring water is, at least, a misrepresentation.  Many companies drill or bore a hole in the ground near the spring and pump the water out.  Although this kind of pumping is a quicker, economical way to extract the water, research has shown that when spring water is pumped, its' composition and quality changes.  Poorly filtered surface water may be pulled into the spring that would not have emerged naturally, bringing with it contaminants that would not be present in naturally slowing spring water.  Spring waters whose labels don't specifically say "natural" on the label may have undergone some processing, such as the addition of minerals.      Bottled water that comes from a hole bored, drilled, or otherwise constructed in the ground to tap an aquifer, is considered by the FDA to be "well water". Defining Waters Future      The new FDA labeling regulations should increase consumer confidence in the bottled water industry.  Consumers are choosing water as their beverage of choice for what it does not contain - calories, caffeine, or alcohol.  A more healthy lifestyle naturally leads to purified water. By Jim Turner, WC&P Managing Editor MAHONING VALLEY WATER 11379 South Avenue Extension North Lima, OH 44452