Quality comparison of tap water vs. bottled water in the industrial city of Yanbu (Saudi Arabia)
This study was conducted to compare the quality of bottled water with potabilized desalinated tap water. Fourteen brands of local and imported bottled water samples were collected from the local market and analyzed for physicochemical parameters in the Royal Commission Environmental Laboratory. Results were compared with 5-year continuous monitoring data of tap water from different locations in Madinat Yanbu Al-Sinaiyah (MYAS) including storage tanks of desalination plant. Results show that there was no significant difference in the quality of tap water and bottled water. Bacteriological test was never found positive in the 5-year data in tap water. Similarly, physicochemical analysis shows the persistent quality of tap water. Based on hardness analysis, bottled and tap water are categorized as soft water. Trihalomethanes (THMs) study also indicates that traces of disinfection by products (DBPs) are present in both tap and bottled water and are much less than the World Health Organization and Environmental Protection Agency maximum permissible limits. It is also important to note that the tap water distribution network in MAYS is a high-pressure recirculation network and there is no chance to grow bacteria in stagnant water in pipe lines or houses. Recently, the Royal Commission has replaced the whole drinking water network, which was made of asbestos-cemented pipes with glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) pipes, to avoid any asbestos contaminations. Based on these results, it is concluded that drinking water distributed in the city is of very good and persistent quality, comparable with bottled water. Continuous monitoring also guarantees the safe drinking water to the community. Hence, it is the responsibility of the Royal Commission to encourage the peoples in the city to drink tap water as it is as good as bottled water even better than some of the brands and is monitored regularly. It is also much cheaper compared to bottled water and is available round the clock. Preference for tap water over bottled water will also reduce the production of bottled water that has flooded the market, the enormous strain on the environment, and the pollution due to used empty plastic bottles in the landfill area and will help to keep the city clean.