First Bottled Water, Now Tap - Networks Sound Alarm about Drinking Water

     Just when you thought it was safe to trust your tap water, it would appear dehydration is your only option.

      The Associated Press detailed a five-month study that found trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in the drinking water supplies of some major metropolitan areas in a report released on March 10.

      Exaggerating fears of the “unknown” risks of the presence of the drugs, CBS, NBC and ABC all covered the report in the March 10 evening news broadcasts.    

      Both “NBC Nightly News” and “CBS Evening News” spotlighted the number of different pharmaceuticals found in Philadelphia, an extreme case with nearly six times the contamination found in other major metropolitan areas. 

      After illustrating how drugs can get into the drinking water – by showing a woman drinking and then a flushing toilet, CBS and NBC went on to eliminate all hope that the American public has access to safe drinking water. Both networks claimed that bottled water cannot be trusted either.

     “The trouble is water treatment plants can’t remove all the pharmaceuticals or the hormones in the water; neither can home filters,” NBC’s Tom Costello said on the “Nightly News” broadcast. “And drinking bottled water won’t help, since it often comes from the same water source.” None of the three networks included a representative from the bottled water industry.

      Stephen Kay, Vice President of Communications for the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) told the Business & Media Institute that “bottled water is not simply tap water in a bottle,” and that “the safety and quality of bottled water produced in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards do not pose a health risk due to pharmaceuticals or other substances.”

     In recent months the media have played a significant role in what “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams called a “growing war on bottled water.” The three networks and CNN have accused water bottlers of misleading consumers and have championed efforts to restrict the use of plastic bottles.

      “We just need to get away from these wasteful environmentally disastrous consumer habits that have been developed and get back to drinking water out of the tap,” Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson told ABC in a July 2007 interview.

      NBC’s Chief Environmental Affairs Correspondent Anne Thompson advocated for cities who were seeking to ban bottled water in October 2007.

      Of course, after alarming millions about tap water with the reports, neither the Associated Press nor the networks offered any solutions, with CBS saying, “if the risks are unclear, so are the solutions.”