Right now, California is knee-deep in the third driest year in its history (since we've been recording, anyway).
To combat the issue, in July, the state enacted drastic actions to reduce water consumption, including $500 fines for watering gardens, washing cars, or hosing down sidewalks. It's pretty serious.
With forceful measures in place, one would think that there would be a ban on exporting water from the nearly barren state.
Apparently not. Many of the big bottled water companies are still tapping California's supplies and sending it to wetter, more fertile states.
According to an article published by the Atlantic, chances are your bottled water is coming from the drought-stricken region.
Spring water, which is gathered from pools at the Earth's surface or from boreholes tapping into underground sources, accounts for about 55 percent of bottled water in the U.S.
The rest, however, is pulled from municipal water supplies and treated -- it's the same exact thing that freely flows from your (or someone else's) faucet.
Regardless of whether it's derived from a naturally occurring spring, a spout drilled into one, or just a city reservoir, there's a good chance the bottled water you picked up at the grocery store is coming from the area that needs it most. (For the record: Lake Okeechobee levels are slightly above its historical average for this time of year.)
Four huge companies pull their water from California: Aquafina, Dasani, Crystal Geyser, and Arrowhead.
The first two pull tap water from city sources, treat it, package it, and sell it to vending machines and chain stores around the country, while Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead source their H2O from springs.
While the amount of water used for bottling in California is microscopic in terms of the amounts used for overall food and beverage production -- according to the Atlantic, "a whopping 80 percent of the state's water supply goes toward agriculture" -- it's still preposterous that we are buying water from an area experiencing an extreme drought (especially when much of it is the same as the free water that comes out of a tap).
There are several reasons for this: Many water companies just started bottling water in California (Arrowhead has been operating for more than a century) and its the only state in the West without groundwater regulation or management. Any company can come in, drill, and take whatever water it so desires.
If you're even slightly concerned with environmental issues, there's no doubt you've heard about wasteful nature of sourcing, bottling, and shipping the same thing that freely flows through the pipes of our homes; however, it seems that most of us aren't too bothered with giving up bottles of water. In 2012, the bottled water industry in the United States produced 10 billion gallons, with sales reaching $12 billion.
Hey, you've heard about keeping it local for food. Why not do the same with water?
Buy a filter, a reusable bottle, and save yourself some money in the process.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.