Published on May 26th, 2018 | by Thomas Brenton0
Society’s Thirst for Cleaner Water
An interview with Harry Gaulden, President of Harmar Associates
by Thomas Brenton
In 2014, Americans drank 10.7 billion gallons of bottled water, or 34 gallons per person annually; a significant increase from the 23 gallons per year average in 2000. The Pacific Institute, a nonprofit research organization, found that all the plastic water bottles consumed by in America in 2006 would have required 17 million barrels of oil to create, the same amount needed to keep a million cars on the road for one year.
Only 31 percent of plastic water bottles get recycled; the remaining 69 percent go to landfills or get left behind as litter. When recycled, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic is usually turned into synthetic clothing. This creates a host of other problems, such as dispersal of microplastics into our water system from laundering. The amount of oil required to make plastic bottles and the inefficiency of the recycling process makes bottled water a terribly wasteful habit.
Harry Gaulden is a clean water consultant and president of Harmar Associates, located in Upper Saddle River, NJ. His company provides on-site water analysis and residential and commercial multi-stage water purification systems that utilize the latest technology. Natural Awakenings asked him to shed some light on our water situation.
Why does our society feel compelled to drink so much bottled water?
Most people realize that municipal or well water is not the best option for drinking, and the general consensus is that consuming it on a regular basis may pose certain health risks in the long term, especially for younger children and the elderly. If most New Jersey residents actually read their municipality’s annual water report, they would be quite surprised with what they found. Based on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection standards, most city water frequently contains higher-than-acceptable levels of common contaminants such as lead, mercury, aluminum, barium, arsenic other industrial and naturally occurring ground contaminants. Many towns also have high levels of chemical disinfectants in their water that are used to treat the water, along with chlorine and other chemicals. Another concern is water absorption through the skin. If chlorine wasn’t problematic enough, here in New Jersey we have a higher rate of groundwater contamination because of the 113 Superfund sites, as well as excess pollution caused by being an industrial hub and the most densely populated state in the nation.
Which factor is most responsible for drinking water contamination?
Many contaminates enter the water supply after it leaves the processing plant, including bacteria and other contaminants that must be controlled, so the water company adds disinfectants. It then becomes the responsibility of the end user to remove those disinfectants through filtrating and purification. In fairness to the municipalities, it would cost billions of dollars to replace our underground water infrastructure. This is both a national and global problem as most countries where systems consist of plumbing that is centuries old. Even in America, most underground water main pipes are at least 150 years old and typically contain lead and other toxic materials.
Isn’t bottled water then a cleaner water source for drinking?
Well, this appears to be the typical consumer’s perception. However, understand that spring water is collected by heavy industrial equipment and stored and transported using tanker trucks and metal storage tanks. We analyze tap, well and bottled water at our facility on a regular basis. In many instances, bottled spring water is no more cleaner than tap and well water. Most bottled spring water contains high amounts of rust and other contaminants. Also, most plastic bottle packaging is not food grade. That means it can contain BPA and other chemicals that will leech plastic into the water. This has been linked to lower testosterone levels in men because the fats in the plastic bottle act like estrogen in the human body.
What’s the best option and what should we be drinking?
At this point, the safest option is water filtered through a multistage purification system, stored or served in food-grade, BPA-free or glass containers. We’ve done the research and analysis. Bottled water is simply another consumer shell game that enriches corporations at the expense of our wallets, environment and health.
For more information or to schedule an in-home water analysis, call 201-934-4221 or visit HarmarAssoc.com.
Thomas Brenton is a contributing author for Natural Awakenings of Northern New Jersey.