Another year and another celebrity shamelessly endorsing a bottled water brand. A report from Glasgow University however raises caution as to why A-listers might want to switch their support instead to good old fashioned tap water.
Like most of you reading this magazine, I have pretty strong views about bottled water. In fact, ever since I started editing WWi it's been hard to resist using this editor's note as a platform to express these views and really have a rant. That is, until now. The reason? A Google alert - on the subject of "water" - popped into my inbox mentioning Mark Wahlberg and P. Diddy. Usually I would dismiss this type of alert as celebrities or politicians getting "into hot water". This time it was different.
It turns out the Hollywood film star and rapper have teamed up to promote a new bottled water, known as AQUAhydrate. The California-based company claims this drink is "ultra purified, electrolyte enhanced and pH+ supercharged". Anyone would think it was a superhero they were describing, not a simple bottle of H2O.
And of course Wahlberg and P. Diddy are not the first celebrities to sell out and endorse a bottled water brand. A couple of years ago singer/diva Beyonce rehashed one of her music videos to incorporate her sipping from a bottle of Crystal Geyser, a "natural, alpine spring water". Water could even be seen splashing around her, while she remains suspiciously dry throughout – much to the disappointment of the millions of men watching!
The water industry is one that does not need educating about the sheer quantities of plastic bottles generated by bottled water. Nor does it need telling about the price difference between bottled and tap water (over 130 times more expensive). Despite its notoriety, bottled water is a big business. In the UK alone Britons spend £1.5 billion each year on the stuff, with each of us on average drinking 33 litres per year.
Furthermore, despite people drinking bottled water for apparent "health" reasons, these efforts could be doing you more harm than good, according to a recent report. In January this year Professor Paul Younger from Glasgow University published a report which compared the strict testing of water utilities compared to bottled water companies.
He reportedly told the Daily Mail newspaper that: "There's certainly a greater chance you could find something harmful in bottled water than from your taps." The report said that tap water must be checked daily under a rigorous inspection regime. In contrast – it claimed – bottle makers are only required to undertake monthly testing at source.
Of course bottled water is not all bad. In countries where drinking water infrastructure is not up to standard, yet, then of course the bottled variety should be preferred. And in terms of delivering aid in emergency situations, bottles of water can mean the difference between life and death. In these scenarios the ability for the human race to deliver clean, bottled water quickly should be seen as a blessing, not a curse.
However, it is when citizens in developed countries pay under the odds for their perfectly adequate tap water but over the odds for a bottle from a shop. Madness.
Unfortunately bottled water has become a symbol of the developed world's throwaway, fashionable and consumer society. And celebrities are happy to support these products for a quick buck to keep up their public appearances.
Wouldn't it be amazing if the rich and famous instead put their efforts into congratulating the water sector and endorsing tap water?
Anyway, rant over. Lots of exciting features in this issue to mention. Be sure to check out the executive comparison on UV technology (pg. 14) for the treatment of emerging contaminants and an update on the politically charged and controversial Gaza desalination project (pg. 26). Also, don't miss our Wasser Berlin preview (pg. 45).
At this year's Wasser Berlin International 2013 show WWi is the official video media partner. Look out for our video studio booth on the show floor where we'll be carrying out interviews throughout the week. Hopefully see you in Berlin!