How clean is your table water?
Health watch dogs around the world may have not been that surprised
when the renowned brand of PepsiCo International, admitted that the real
source of their table water was from the public water supply - The tap.
Various consumer rights organisations and health associations have
been demanding bottlers of mineral and table water to divulge the source
of their water. Fancy blue colour labels with mountain tops and springs
have mislead the consumer into thinking that the water they have been
drinking have all come from pure, fresh bubbling spring from way up on a
snow capped mountain whereas it has been from the same public source.
In late July 2007, Aquafina in New York City finally stated they get
their water from the tap. So much for the fancy blue colour labels with
mountain tops and springs. Where does this leave us Sri Lankan
consumers? It is time for us to get on the act and make our own
inquiries about the mineral water that is available in the market today.
Our active life styles and health consciousness have compelled us to
carry our own bottles of water along with our cell phones wherever we
go. We have been taught to ask the vital question from the day we could
talk, when we are served water at a restaurant, "is it boiled?" And we
trusted the waiter so much that we often tipped him handsomely for his
gracious smile only to find later amidst chronic stomach pains that he
Today the question is settled when mineral water or table water is
served. It is bottled water with a label and a sealed cap and that
settles all arguments about the cleanliness, hygiene and safety about
the water. But does it?
There is so much we do not know about table water. Up to very
recently a friend of mine actually thought that minerals that are
mentioned on the label of table water bottle are added to make the
contents better for human consumption.
Another fallacy is about the purifying process. We picture a fancy
factory process with state of the art technology to purify water whereas
Mother Nature has the perfect process to filter and cleanse it and make
it perfect for consumption.
Alum was used over the last century to purify drinking water. Today
experts claim that high intake of Alum could cause Alzheimer's disease
(a degenerating disease of the brain) - I wonder whether this is the
reason why some of our politicians have short term memory loss.
Chlorination which is also used widely to clean water is said to
cause cancer. Ozonation uses dangerous toxic compounds to kill off the
germs. So if the germs don't get you the toxins will.
It is quite refreshing to note that some of the table water bottlers
such as Aquafresh who extract it from a source which is pure and free of
contamination replicate the natural process of purification without
using chemicals and other substances that are harmful for humans over a
period of time.
The wet zone in Sri Lanka is by far the best source of natural water.
However surface water is prone for contamination through man and beast.
We Sri Lankans have this untamed habit.
We cannot see a pool of water but we have to jump into it and have a
bath, wash our clothes and do whatever else and contaminate it. So one
has to go below the surface, dig deep into the rock bed to obtain pure,
fresh and uncontaminated water that is suitable for human consumption.
According to an Aquafresh spokesman the company looked at several
locations before deciding on the water source and pitching their tent
"We settled for this place ultimately, Udagamkanda and it is very
close to the Labugama and Kalatuwawa forest reserves" he stated waving
his hand and showing me the surrounding area.
I could see only trees and there were no houses or industries around.
So Aquafresh couldn't have selected a better place. It is away from
people like you and me. With a high rainfall throughout the year there
is an abundance of water in springs surrounded by rain forests of the
Names like Labugama and Kalatuwawa are synonymous with water that is
clean. "We extract water from deep wells which reach down to 200 feet
beneath the rock bed. This way we avoid contamination of water through
surface contact whilst preserving the natural goodness and quality of
the fresh water", he added.
Answering my queries whether any form of purification is done at the
plant, the spokesman and the factory manager laid to rest any concern
that I had about health by taking me on a factory tour.
The deep wells are protected to make sure that nothing gets into the
water. The plant imitates what Mother Nature does to water to make it
Water is also taken through an oxidation process like in a waterfall.
Then as in the case of natural stream where water is naturally
filtered by sand, pebbles and rocks, at Aquafresh plant, the extracted
water is passed through a series of deep wells, where it is filtered
using a process that copy the natural filtration of water.
"We use a biological purification system and there is no addition of
any chemical compound what so ever, but we emulate the natural
procedure. We use micron filter system and UV filters to address micro
biological contamination", he added.
Observing the rest of the automated process of moulding the bottles
at site itself, washing, filling etc, we Sri Lankans can be proud of the
fact that one of our own serves pure, fresh, natural water on the table.