Lubbock tap water just as healthy as bottled water

The City of Lubbock released its annual water quality report showing Lubbock's drinking water passed all federal regulations.

By law each year the City has to mail the results to the thousands of customers using Lubbock's water. The results show all levels of minerals and contaminates are in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency's standards, with only chloride levels slightly higher than usual.

"Basically you're talking about salts in the water. Most of your surface water bodies, Lake Meredith for example, have more chlorides. It's going to taste a little more salty," said Aubrey Spear, Lubbock Water Resources director.

Experts say Lubbock is relying more on groundwater as Lake Meredith is drying up. This well water has fewer minerals in it, making it taste more like bottled water. "Bottled water companies, what they do is take the water through a reverse osmosis which a membrane that will actually filter out minerals," said Spear.

Some of the companies will then add a small amount of minerals back into the water to give it a specific taste.

Technically, with the tap water passing all EPA regulations there are no health benefits to buying bottled water or using filtration systems.  It all boils down to taste preference.

In a blind taste test, four out of 12 people preferred tap water, six liked Ozarka bottled water better and two had no preference at all. "The minerals do impact the taste, and some people just prefer the bottled water," said Spear.

Spear also says Lubbock's water is more highly regulated than bottle water, and a chlorine filtration system is required to keep out pathogens. Bottle water companies don't even have to show consumers what is in their water.

"We're required to have a certain chlorine residual in our water. So you can leave a glass of tap water on your counter for a few days and those chlorine residuals will help keep it disinfected. Bottle water might not have that," said Spear.

While you can usually get a gallon of water at the grocery store for about a dollar, Spear says you can get 1,000 gallons of tap water for just three dollars.

Copyright 2011 KCBD. All rights reserved.