WHAT'S an interesting topic you’re passionate about? New research found the debate on tap vs. bottled water is a hot one.

The study polled 2,004 nationally representative Americans to analyze their water drinking habits and found 66 percent agreed they have strong opinions on their water preference.

Nearly seven in 10 said they trust their tap water is safe to drink, yet nearly one in four said they refuse to drink it. In fact, 54 percent said they would not drink tap water anywhere outside of their homes.

Despite these strong preferences toward bottled water, 36 percent said they always end up refilling a plastic bottle with tap water.

But why are Americans opting for bottled water instead of tap? Out of the 69 percent of respondents who preferred bottled to tap, 32 percent said it’s simply a shopping habit.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of American Water, the survey found the pandemic caused a tectonic shift in Americans’ water consumption habits. Thirty-six percent of respondents stopped buying bottled water due to supply shortages during the pandemic.

With this shift in shopping habits also came a shift in their consumption habits as 37 percent of respondents said they honestly couldn’t remember why they preferred bottled over tap.

As Americans turn to the tap for a drink, they’ve noticed this has changed their water consumption on all fronts. In fact, 45 percent of respondents said they now waste less water at home as they managed through the pandemic – noting they turn off the faucet when brushing their teeth and not wasting water before getting into the shower.

One water drinking habit that may need to shift, however, is how much Americans are drinking. The average respondent only drinks 4.5 cups of water a day. However, six in 10 did share they drink upwards of five glasses.

This lack of hydration circles back to what side of the bottled vs. tap debate do Americans fall on, as 55 percent said they catch themselves drinking less water if they don’t have bottled water nearby.

“There are many reasons why tap water should be the ‘go-to’ for hydration needs,” said Matthew Corson, Director of Environmental Compliance at American Water.

“Replacing bottled water with a trip to the kitchen sink is a better choice for the environment in a more affordable manner.”

So where do the concerns about tap water come from? Of those polled who feel their tap water is not safe to drink, the top concern was about taste (55 percent), possible contamination (54 percent), and the fear it’s not clean (50 percent).

With these concerns on water quality, respondents were also asked how they would navigate a water quality report from their utility company and found 65 percent are confident they’d be able to understand the findings.  

“The privilege of providing households with an essential resource comes with the responsibility to help keep it both clean and safe,” added Corson.

“With the help of our researchers and operators, American Water understands the importance of delivering quality water from the source to the tap.

"Accordingly, some utility companies have already started to revamp how they are communicating with customers – American Water, for example, recently redesigned its water quality report to be more reader-friendly.”

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