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5 Different Types of Drinking Water

Updated: Jan 22, 2022

5 Different Types of Drinking Water, graphic of water sources

We review five different types of drinking water sources because more and more people are concerned about what might be in their drinking water. This US drinking water review will look at 5 of the most common drinking water choices. The results will shock you but keep reading until the end, so you can learn about some of the myths which may be the base of your choice.

Why are We Concerned about our Drinking Water?

About 21 billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released yearly – just from industrial sources.

With the alarming release rate of harmful chemicals, There is a growing concern about the water supply. Remember, the 21 billion pounds figure does not include Agriculture and other sources, just industrial sources. So this article looks at the different types of water we use for our drinking water, knowing about the increased release of toxins into our environment.

In 2014 it was reported, EPA regulated only 90 contaminants

Do you think things are better now? Nope, EPA still sets legal limits on "over 90 contaminants". EPA

Under the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The SDWA does nothing to eliminate the contaminants, just to set safe limits.

9/22/1980 Time Magazine Cover story was "The Poisoning of America."

Review 5 Different Types of Drinking Water Sources, Time Cover the poisoning of America

"Last week, sounding the most authoritative warning yet, Julius Richmond, the Surgeon General of the US, declared that throughout the 1980s the nation will "confront a series of environmental emergencies" posed by toxic chemicals that "are adding to the disease burden in a significant, although as yet not precisely defined, way." ~ The Poisoning of America By Ed Magnuson

RoundUp – 2015 Report

The herbicide glyphosate stood at 185 million pounds in 2007, reflecting the rising popularity of Monsanto's Roundup. [source] A recent US Geological Survey study showed that 75% of air and water samples now contain Roundup toxic samples. [Reported 2015] [source]

But These dates Are so Old!

Yes, those dates are old. Time Magazine warned of the poisoning of America 40 years ago, and we responded with some positive actions such as the Clean Air and Water Acts and the Environmental Protection Agency.

But those standards have been left in the dust. Research shows air water and toxicity threats are getting worse every day. Indeed our life expectancy has been declining in recent years.

So, it's not about how old the dates are, but are things getting better or worse.

Is Our Drinking Water Healthy?

We all know it's not, but we want to keep our families safe. The problem is complex and perplexing to consumers.

Is There a Healthy, Safe, Clean Drinking water?

The answer to that question looks grim the deeper we look. So decided to look pretty deep dive into the different drinking water supply sources.

This article looks at the five most popular drinking water choices from different types of water in Part One of a three-part series. Odds are you will see your choice in these five water types, and you will probably see things you may not want to see.

In Part Two of this series, we try to re-frame the conversation about what healthy drinking should be . The current discussion does not look at a definition of healthy drinking water. So much of the conversation is a choice between two or more unhealthy options.

Part 2 – Healthy Drinking Water The Best Water to Drink

Part Three of this series ties all we found in parts one and two and tries to tie a bow on the question, "what is the healthiest water to drink"? gives you their favorite choice, but there may be others you choose.

We know you will be tempted to skip to part 3 to get the answer, but this is one of those journey things you may want to take.

Part 3 – Drinking Filtered Water – What's in Your Water

The Tap Water Choice

5 Different Types of Drinking Water, water from a faucet

In our review of 5 different water sources, the first water type is tap water. Tap water is getting a bad rap nowadays. But guess what? You will be surprised by the final rankings. Municipal Water, a Source of the Best Drinking Water?.

Tap water, many times called Municipal water. It's what comes out of your tap if you live in a municipality in the US. It is considered free, but most of us pay water fees, so saying it's fee is 100% not true.

The water quality has to meet standards and is monitored hourly [in some cases] to meet the standard.

We need two words of caution at this point.

Caution one: EPS monitors only about 90 contaminates established years ago. Those levels are the official EPS "safe for drinking." The EPA recently lost its independent nature and has become a political battleground. more info

Caution two: What the EPA says is safe is not considered safe by everyone. The Environmental Working Group [EWG] has set its safe levels independent outside of the political arena. They have a ranking of current drinking water safety by zip code. Their rankings include more than the 90 contaminants considered by the EPA. Click The EWG Tap Water Database to access the ranking of your tape water.

You may find it to be a sobering experience. It was for us.

A series treatment steps is used for most Tap Water in the US

Coagulation is the process that removes dirt and other particles suspended in the water. Alum and other chemicals are added to attract the dirt particles and settle out in the Sedimentation process. The water is then passed through a filter customarily made up of layers of Sand, Gravel, and Charcoal to remove some smaller particles.

Chlorine is added as a disinfectant to kill bacteria and microorganisms. The water is stored in a closed tank or reservoir as it awaits distribution through a pipe network to homes and businesses. Source

The problem and growing concern is the distribution system reaches up to a thousand miles in length. In 2001 the US EPA Infrastructure Needs Survey estimated investment of $150.9 billion would be needed over 20 years to keep at 2001 standards. That was over 20 years ago and nothing happened. Just like nothing is happening now.

So, where does that leave us in our Quest for the different types of water?

  • One city in California had NO source water protection

  • Many cities in the US use pre-World War 1 water delivery systems and treatment technology

Tap water tested positive for a vast array of contaminants:

  • Lead

  • Pathogens of all kinds

  • byproducts of chlorine treatment, including trihalomethane

  • halo-acetic acids,

  • arsenic

  • radon

  • perchlorate

  • a general term for toxic chemicals.

Right-to-Know Reports

  • Many cities tried hard but still had toxins in their drinking water. The standards are old, outdated by 40 years.

  • Many cities just outright lied on their reports

  • Many cities did not translate the effect on human health source

We believe we can now better understand why the public source of Tap Water is falling out of favor. There are too many facts coming to the public. The job of keeping drinking quality water steady, with the tools we have, is just getting too large and hard to manage. The priority of deep environmental wisdom is losing to short-term profit and economic gain.

Local Variances in Source Water Quality

Regional variances in source water quality based on seasons, and other environmental factors, allow time-to-correct deviations from the standard. However, variations can become a two-sided coin as officials balance health concerns with disruption of economics and daily human life if water service is cut off.

For example, there is a city south of the offices. A very recent Environmental Work Group nationwide water survey showed the city with consistent issues lasting over time.

Those issues had one cause of saltwater intrusion into their drinking water source. It is an environmental issue beyond the scope of the city. So what to do?

It is hard to blame the city for a regional problem.

But the regional issue is yet another reason, another layer why tap water is degrading.

There is good news

Sound filtration systems can restore water quality at the home level.

A key takeaway?

It is a personal responsibility issue for families; we need to protect ourselves and not wait for someone to fix it.

Tap Water Quality Tied to Source Water Quality

Many times tap water quality is tied to source water quality. Unfortunately, there is a nationwide decreasing trend of water source quality. Municipal water sources shrink or suffer a quality loss due to local toxic pressure from industry, agriculture, animal husbandry, prescriptions, fracking, drought, etc.

Your Local Drinking Water Source is a Precious Commodity

One thing to remember, your local drinking water source is a precious commodity. It should not be sold to bottlers or allowed to become polluted. It should be treated as an invaluable part of life.

Get involved and make sure your regulators and officials understand the need for proper water for humans.

Tap Water, the base for other drinking water types?

For the lousy rap tap water is getting nowadays, we find it interesting that tap water is the base for most other water types.

Most impressive is one tiny fact: Only one of the following common choices for drinking water, Well Water, does not start with tap water.

The Case FOR Tap Water as The Best Drinking Water

  • Tightly regulated [ a good thing]

  • Treated – Chorine [good news, it can be Filter out at the family level]

  • The bad news, most filters don't filter out the Chorine and its byproducts.

  • It's Free; the cost is meager

  • It is regulated and monitored to meet a national standard.

  • Probably better for you than bottled water [as you will see].

  • Public control is controlled for the public good, not for profit motivation.

  • Many problems with tap water can be fixed at the family level.

The Case AGAINST Tap Water as The Best Drinking Water

  • Treated – Chorine, and sometimes, lots of it [a bad thing it not filtered, but necessary to kill living things in the water].

  • Hot Showers means you are breathing Chlorine Gas and absorbing chlorine through your skin and lungs.

  • "Showering [and hot baths] are suspected as the primary cause of elevated levels of chloroform in nearly every home because of the chlorine in the water." Dr. Lance Wallace of the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Sources vary and may need regional intervention for safeguarding.

  • What is in the aging pipes delivering it to your faucet? [ some times up to 1000 miles of pipe delivery in larger cities]

  • Filtered? Probably not

  • Public Image – People dislike tap water more as the bottled water industry cranks up the popularity of us carrying tap water around in an unhealthy plastic bottle

Of the five different types of water reviewed, tap water is probably the most used in the US. While the US has some of the best tap water globally, it may not be the best source of drinking water.

The Bottled Water Choice

5 Different Types of Drinking Water, water filling a glass

Is Bottled Water Just Tap Water?

Many household families choose to use bottled water rather than drinking from the tap, but guess what? Most consumers don't realize that most bottled water is tap water shipped over a state line. About 64% of the bottled water is just tap water from another state.

Bottled water is stored and shipped in plastic containers which the water leaches both BPA and BPS.

Wait, bottled water is 64% of the time just tap water shipped over a state line in a toxic plastic bottle? Yes. And that trend is suspected to be increasing? Yes. source

Advertising Words Do Not Change the Fact

Even commercial adjectives like' mountain stream,' 'fresh,' 'clean,' 'natural,' and 'bottled at the source' do not change the fact we still have no idea what's in the bottle of water.

The source of bottled water is not verified or monitored. Those labels are just advertising words printed on bottled [64% of the time} tap water. So why do we think it is fantastic and the best water source? We do not know that for a fact. Decide for yourself if their words are real or more likely profit-motivated hype.

How Expensive is Bottled Water

This lack of care hardly justifies these companies' prices for their product. Bottled water can cost up to 2000% more than tap water.

More than that, if drinking the unregulated expensive water stops you from finding a validated source of healthy water, then it may be causing a lot of harm to your loved ones.

Bottled water Costs more than Gas?

Bottled water can cost you more than gasoline. Over a few years, for one family, that could add up to anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. It can be a pretty scary thought when you take the time to sit back and look at the cost of unregulated drinking water vs. regulated water.

The actual cost of Bottled Water

  • The US spends over $20,000,000,000 (20 billion dollars) a year on bottled water (2012 -2103)

  • $50,000,000,000 ($50 billion spent on toxic plastic bottles) which most are not recycled

  • $16,000,000 ($16 million) barrels of oil are consumed, making the plastic bottles

  • $17,000,000 ($17 million) barrels of oil consumed transporting the bottled water

  • BPA and BPS leach from the bottles into the water, especially in warmer temperatures.

  • As early as 2010, National Geographic published an article linking BPA to heart disease. source

  • Much more has come out about the health costs since 2010.

The Case FOR Bottled Water as The Best Drinking Water

  • Convenient, but then so are harder no-toxic plastic water bottles.

  • Water in a pinch – disasters, this water easily transportable and essential water better than options when choices are scarce to nothing

The Case AGAINST Bottled Water as The Best Drinking Water

  • Expensive

  • No regulation – other than those laws that apply to the source

  • Sourced for profit, not common good

  • High probability of repackaged tap water

  • Chance it's worse for you than tap water

  • The plastic bottle is linked to health concerns.

  • There is an Environment and high social cost of transportation.

  • The environmental and social price of bottle creation/manufacture is high.

  • There is an Environmental pollution cost with only 23% of bottles being recycled – leaving 38 billion bottles in landfills or the ocean, beaches, lakes, etc. source

  • Healthier, less costly options are available.

Of the five different types of water in our review, bottled water used as the primary drinking water is on the rise. We suspect because of packaging branding and marketing. However, The facts do not support bottled water as an excellent primary drinking water source.

The Reverse Osmosis Water Choice

Reverse Osmosis (RO) water is a hot topic on the internet. The process is probably the best water filtration on the market. If filtration were the only thing that makes a healthy best drinking water, it would win hands down. However, filtration is not the only issue, and RO water has its share of the other problems.

After talking to many people who have RO systems, we find them loyal to their investment. However, most complain about some of the health conditions that are possible with RO water.

RO Water and Health Conditions

In the Con section below, we mention health issues, so we should describe them to help answer questions.

The base of the issues is caused by the RO process's strength, excellent filtering. The filtering is so good; almost everything is taken out of the water, leaving a 'dead' acidic water.

RO Water Acidity

Reverse Osmosis water usually is 5.0 to 6.0 on the pH scale. Water is considered to be nurtural pH of 7.0. The pH scale is logarithmic like the earthquake Richter scale. So an RO water pH score of 5.0 is 100 times more acidic than average 7.0 pH water and 1000 times acidic than higher pH water of 8.0.

As a result, RO water can signal the body to take minerals from your bones to help raise the pH to a higher level. Long-term use of RO water can help lead or contribute to bone issues such as osteopenia and the more severe osteoporosis.

RO Minerals and Hydration

Minerals play a role in water, moving across cell membranes – hydration. In a sense, the more minerals, the better the hydration. The fewer the minerals, the more the body needs to correct the imbalance or eliminate it to make the water more healthy.

From a body burden standpoint, the RO water you drink makes your body respond to the low mineral and pH. So your body spends more time, energy, and resources correcting the body's imbalances and less time trying to keep you healthy.

If used long-term, you are adding the body list of things it has to take care of, a body burden we discuss later in this 3 part series.

RO Water Sustainability

Reverse Osmosis water takes 3-4 gallons of water to make one gallon of usable water. This waste brings up sustainability issues, primarily as world water sources dry up. What water system can afford its users wasting [going down the drain] 75% of the water supply?

Water use is becoming a hot social and political topic. As source water either dries up or get more polluted, it will be hard for local, state and federal government to solve the issue . Flint Michigan showed us that, as the lead issue continues today.

Cost of Reverse Osmosis Systems

RO systems have a high investment cost when installed. The highest of all other water types, except for Well water. The cost of the wastewater needs to be factored in with investment costs. . Finally, there is a filter cost involved. That cost is much higher than the price associated with standard filter systems.

The Case For Reverse Osmosis Water as The Best Drinking Water

  • Excellent Filtration

  • For short term use for specific reasons, it is water.

The Case Against Reverse Osmosis Water is The Best Drinking Water

  • Expensive – high investment cost

  • Expensive – high use costs

  • Not sustainable

  • Dead water, no minerals – can help cause health issues

  • Very acidic – pH 5 -6 can help cause health issues

  • Relies on electric power, it will not function in a power outage

Of the 5 different types of water review, we do not consider the RO option as a viable primary drinking source.

The Filtered Water Choice

5 Different Types of Drinking Water, graphic of water

Most families drink 'filtered' water because they think it is more healthy than tap water. So, what is the Problem?

The Problem? When is a Filter Not a Healthy Filter

The problem? When the filtration is of such a low level, it does nothing to keep us healthy, and then we have a problem. (Similar circumstances as with Bottle Water.) but worse yet, advertising for those filter products suggests 'fresh' 'natural' 'from the source' 'spring' water, and we think we have found an excellent healthy solution.

All filters are NOT created or tested equally.

Most people trust refrigerator and countertop pitcher types of filtration. Those types of filters only make the water look and taste better and do little to help your body's health.

Refrigeration and Pitcher Filtration

Refrigerator and pitcher filtration do nothing to filter out major toxic health stuff. They are a lower class of filters using the NFS Standard 42 aesthetic standard.

The NFS 43 standard is designed to make the water look and taste better - only. They are only concerned about taking out larger particles and "free chlorine" for looks and taste, thereby leaving all the toxins still in the water. So you are only drinking good-tasting polluted water.

Filtered water is an excellent way to go. Still, the buyer must navigate through the marketing material to ensure the health claims are not implied or the filters get rid of just a few more accessible toxins.

What To Look for As REAL Filtration

Look for the standards NSF 42, NSF 53, and NSF 273 [low lead] filtration standards.

You will often see claims that water purifiers filter at the level of NSF 53 and NSF 273 without certification. If you trust the brand, you are probably ok.

Filtering tap water keeps down the cost of your water while taking advantage of the municipal monitoring and treatment of drinking water.

The excellent news is that NSF 53 Standard takes out chlorine. NSF 42 Standard does not take out the chlorine, with associated VOCs and a host of other lousy stuff. So when filtering with NSF 53, we can get the benefits of using chlorine as a water treatment without adverse health effects. And that is a win-win

The Case FOR Filtered Water as The Best Drinking Water

  • Uses cheap [almost free] tap water

  • There is the availability of water source

  • There is the availability of Filters

  • NSF Standard 53 and 273 [low lead] Standards are designed to make water healthy.- Find the suitable unit

  • The cost of filters can vary but typically are inexpensive

  • Filtration is usually the best economic option

  • Purifies water after pipe delivery of tap water, so water out of the purifier is not contaminated by pipes

  • The suitable filters help to take out the toxic variables from local water

  • Properly filtered water makes a massive difference to the health of your family IF you have the proper filtration

The Case Against Filtered Water being The Best Drinking Water

  • Cost of changing Filters

  • We need to change filters so the "dam" effect of filtering out toxins do not get released back into the water

  • Watch out for small-sized filters; they need to be changed much more often

  • Marketing Hype can confuse buyers into making bad decisions, thereby not receiving any of the filtered advantages

  • Most filters do very little for your health

Of the five different types of water review, filtered water has potential, especially when tap water is adequately filtered.

The Well Water Choice

While most well water users will brag about the water quality, there can be issues. The main problem with Well water is that people assume it is better. In fact, it may not be the best at their location.

The Best Drinking Water Type?

Wellwater is considered by many to be some of the best water you can drink. The water is filtered by the earth and not treated with chlorine, so many see it as fantastic tap water. However, it is also true that local source water conditions vary so much, that well water can be very unhealthy.

Maybe Not the Best

The main problem with Well water is that people assume it is better. It's not tested or monitored, and if the water source is closer to the surface, the water quality can easily be determined by runoff conditions.

We know by experience that well water can degrade quickly depending on the condition of the well and the pipes that carry the water to the faucet.

What Runoff Conditions?

  • The higher the ground source water is to the surface, the more the groundwater is affected by runoff conditions.

  • Farm Animal Waste

  • Farm Crop chemical spraying of all types

  • Natural local soil conditions

  • Past Mining operations

The Case FOR Well Water as The Best Drinking Water

  • From an underground so assumed filtered

  • Normally very clear

  • Not treated with chlorine

  • Fewer if any Chlorine produced VOC's typically found in drinking water

  • In many remote areas of the world, Well water is the best source

The Case Against Well Water being The Best Drinking Water

  • Not treated with chlorine

  • Not regulated

  • Probably not monitored

  • Subject to environmental circumstances around you

  • IE Agriculture chemical runoff

  • IE Agriculture livestock runoff

  • If historical mining, mining operations

  • Not tested, many assume it's better

  • If privately verified, frequent testing needed adding to the expense

  • Testing will only give a list of what is in the water but does not pass judgment on the viability or health of the water

  • Contains all pollution in the local water source

  • Very few families have access to this choice

Of the five different types of water review, well water is probably the best comprehensive source for drinking water, but it is not practical for most people.