That Poland Spring water you’re drinking?  It’s not from Poland.

When a group of 60 Fairfield students were selected at random and asked to identify the source of this popular water brand, more than half of them didn’t have a clue.  A few, however, did think it came from a spring, and some others did know it originated in Maine.  But there’s probably a reason Nestle, the manufacturer of Poland Spring, basks in ambiguity on the matter—and also fails to advertise that the original Poland Spring hasn’t actually flowed since 1967.  As The New York Times pointed out within the last decade, that spring of Poland is little more than ground water surrounded by asphalt parking lots.

The point?  Know where your water comes from.

Over the past 10 years, Nestle has been the center of a number of lawsuits with a few of their labels, including Poland Spring and Ice Water; one of these suits against Poland Spring even caused Nestle to settle the case for $10 million — which means Nestle didn’t want the case to go to court.  Which makes me wonder if Nestle has something to hide.

And Nestle is not the only culprit.  Consumer activists groups have identified the false advertising of, or failure to advertise at all, the true source of bottled waters across the board.  After a series of public outcries and attacks, Aquafina, the brand that grossed $785 million in 2009, began printing the letters “P.W.S.” on their labels.  It stands for public water source—another name for tap water.  Municipal city water, to be exact.  But Aquafina certainly has done a great job deceiving the public; 54 out of 60 polled Fairfield students had no idea of the brand’s water source.

That means, in a nutshell, that your sink water is on par with some of the best-selling water brands in the United States.

And yet, of those same 60 Fairfield students, more than 70 percent still think bottled water tastes better than tap water — even though 38 of those same students admitted to drinking tap water instead of bottled water.  Seventy-two percent also think bottled water is safer, and three out of four think it’s cleaner.

What most of us don’t know, however, is that our faucet drip is regulated just as much as those bottled brands that can run for $2.50 in a vending machine, or up to $6 at Yankee Stadium or Disney World.  According to the International Bottled Water Association, and supported by the Drinking Water Research Foundation, the regulations of tap water by the Environmental Protection Agency and bottled water by the FDA both provide Americans with clean, safe drinking water.  And, based on the stat that Americans spent $11.8 billion (that’s with a B) on bottled water in 2012, bottled water is actually 2,000 times more expensive than tap water.

So, you’re a college student on a budget?  Forget getting a second job.  Just run to the bookstore, grab a Fairfield reusable bottle, and switch to tap.  Your pocket change will thank you, and your stomach won’t mind.

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