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Drinking Water

Tap Water or Bottled Water

Is tap water safe to drink? Should I buy bottled water? The answer: it depends.

Drinking water regulations address tap water delivered through community water systems. Public systems must test water on a specified basis in accordance with state and federal safe drinking water regulations. Most tap water provided by these systems is more regulated than bottled water. Some parameters like "forever chemicals" and microplastics may not be tested in drinking water or bottled water if not required by regulation. 

"Forever chemicals" include a class of chemicals collectively known as per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) and potentially other chemicals yet to be researched that persist in the environment for decades.

Rows of sealed water bottles with white caps.
Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

Bottled water may be packaged straight from a public system or ground water such as a spring. The processing of water for bottling - removing and adding minerals, making the bottles, labeling, storing and transporting the bottles adds a cost over regular tap water. Bottled water is more expensive than tap water. Plastic water bottles contribute to litter in our communities, the ocean, and landfill waste.

Tap Water in the Pikes Peak Region

Person filling a reusable water bottle at kitchen sink with fresh produce in foreground.
Photo by Bluewater Sweden on Unsplash
A snowy mountain landscape under a clear blue sky Colorado
Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Most of the drinking water in the Pikes Peak Region originates in the Rocky Mountains as snowmelt. It is delivered through a complex system of reservoirs and pipelines. Some water processed for drinking also comes from water collected in aquifers underground and local reservoirs. Surface and ground water is treated to meet drinking water standards and delivered to our homes and businesses. After the water is used, the wastewater is collected, treated, and emptied or discharged into Fountain Creek.

Precipitation falling on the ground or tap water used for lawns and gardens soaks in and provides water for plants and collects in aquifers. Water that does not percolate into the soil runs off into local waterbodies collecting dirt and pollutants as it flows. 

Downstream users take water out of creeks and rivers for their drinking water. Communities utilize similar systems for treating, storing and delivering drinking water for their customers. Farmers and ranchers take the water directly out of Fountain Creek and other streams for agriculture - livestock and irrigating crops.

Some residential, commercial, and agricultural users also depend on ground water for their drinking water, with or without filtration or other individual treatment systems. Pollutants in aquifers may orginate naturally from geologic formations or from human activities. 

Utility companies are required by state and federal Safe Drinking Water Regulations to prepare an annual water quality report. The regulations require certain water quality parameters to be sampled, tested, analyzed and reported to the public. The links below provide access to the water quality reports for these providers. 

Those with household wells used for drinking or livestock may wish to have the water sampled and tested periodically to determine the level of contamintion, if any.

PFAS has been identified as a contaminate in water supplies in our area.

  • Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.
  • For more information, please visit the Environmental Protection Agency's webpage on Per-and Polyfluoraoalkyl Substances (PFAS), Feb 8, 2024. Retrieved 02/22/2024

Resources concerning PFAS and other chemicals::

Bottled Water

Bottled water may be the best choice for homeowners and businesses that have historically used groundwater wells for drinking water.  Groundwater may become contaminated by minerals or pollutants that makes it taste bad or be unhealthy if not treated.  Bottled water might be a good drinking water option for people with residential wells in lieu of more expensive treatment methods, if needed. 

Plastic bottle on a beach with incoming foam waves
Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

It is a good idea to keep tap or bottled water on hand for use during water emergencies or disasters where water systems are damaged or incapacitated. Remember to replensih your supplies after a few months to keep the water fresh and suitable for drinking. Use it for watering plants or other non-drinking purposes rather than putting it directly down the drain.

Always recycle empty single-use water bottles. Beverage [and food] containers should be emptied and rinsed before recycling them. Dispose of bottle caps with landfill trash. Plastic beverage containers comprise a significant amount of waste collected during our Creek Week and Great American Cleanup activities.  Litter, like plastic containers, can ultimately flow downstream to the Gulf of Mexico and contribute to ocean pollution.

Infographic showing global top 10 items collected in 2022 coastal cleanup


 Resources conserning bottled water:

Additional information about drinking water to help inform your decision.