EDITORIAL - Is tap water really safer and healthier?

The Freeman

The Metropolitan Cebu Water District has put out a very provocative advertisement in the local papers. In the advertisement, MCWD urges the public to drink tap water. Tap water is the water that comes from your faucet. It is what the MCWD provides. It is its main line of business. The advertisement is provocative because it asks the public to shun bottled water. It asserts that tap water is safer and healthier.

An advertisement as provocative as that, it is a wonder why it has not provoked heated discussions or debates in the public. There has not been any rejoinder so far from any bottled water provider or the organization representing them. Maybe the advertisement has not yet sunk into the public consciousness. It might even be that the public has missed the advertisement altogether.

But it is out there, in all its provocative beauty, already in the public domain following publication, all set and waiting to be picked up, argued about, and nit-picked. If nobody has noticed it, then we hope this piece will lead the way to a healthy discussion on the matter that MCWD has put on the table. Its assertions affect us all.

In the advertisement, MCWD asserts that tap water is safer and healthier. However, the most glaring thing about that claim is what is missing from it. In the advertisement, MCWD provides nothing to support its claim that tap water is safer and healthier. All that the advertisement does instead is assail the alternative to tap water, which is bottled water.

In the advertisement, MCWD claims that drinking tap water instead of bottled water helps you save money and reduces the amount of garbage produced from empty discarded bottles. It says that much of the money you pay for bottled water does not go to buy the water itself but to the cost of producing the product – bottling, packaging, shipping, marketing, retailing, and then profit.

The beauty of the advertisement is that it speaks the truth. It is true that bottled water is more expensive. It is true that much of the cost of buying bottled water is not for the water itself but for production expenses. It is true that discarded empty bottles contribute a great deal to the amount of garbage being produced daily.

But while the MCWD advertisement speaks the truth, it does not tell it in its entirety. It stops short of saying why drinking tap water is the healthier and safer alternative. The advertisement makes a very critical claim about health and safety but does not say why, does not provide an iota of proof to support the claim. The absence of proof does not, of course, invalidate the claim. But it would have been the responsible thing to do, given the sensitivity of the issue involved.

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