The lack of action and attention to bottled water companies causes a major problem when it comes to springs and water quality control nationwide.

Not only humans, but virtually every other form of life on this planet needs water to survive and generate more life; the reason this liquid is essential in this world is because without water people, animals, and plants would not exist.

Problematic Business

However, multinational companies such as Coke and PepsiCo have created a giant business around water by bottling and sealing water at extremely high prices. These two corporations and many others around the world buy pieces of land with springs, or ground-flowing water points in them and they profit from it until no resources are left in the area. To promote consumption of their products, they label their bottles with claims that this liquid is “spring water,” but it does not mean that this water is purer than the water people can drink from the sink at their own houses.

Are regulations necessary?

According to Abel Sánchez, a wildlife and natural resources inspector from Alajuela, urban projects with no environmental control whatsoever, deforestation, minimal governmental regulations, and industrial waste are the things that represent the worst threats to springs. Those factors jeopardize life and water purity. If municipalities do not require construction permits, most companies will not respect nature and they throw waste in the river banks and springs, which reduces the quality and quantity of potable water.

Sánchez states that AyA (Aqueduct and Sewer Authority), Cervecería de Costa Rica (Costa Rica’s Brewery), and other bottled water sealing companies are obliged by law to keep all water sources clean and in good condition, but in real life that does not happen accordingly.

The government also has to maintain, conserve, and rescue all natural resources, especially water since the access to it is a human right. Similarly, Sánchez found that in Alajuela the industries that pollute water sources the most are coffee plantations, milk factories, and agrochemicals companies, and that happens mainly because the Instituto Geográfico Nacional (National Geographic Institute) has no registry of many springs of the liquid in this province, so no control or regulations exist to protect natural resources.

The Right to Quality

All the problems exposed above prove that bottled water is not as pure and good as companies allege. Besides the poor quality of bottled water, the corporations in charge of sealing it do not respect nature as much as they claim.

Water is a common good to which every single person on Earth should have access to; however, a war over H2O has developed due to the lack of control when it comes to profiting from it and the way multinationals have taken the water over.

As Maude Barlow explains in her book Blue Gold: The Battle Against Corporate Theft of the World’s Water, “The water industry is one of the fastest growing and least regulated businesses in the world,” which makes it easier for water bottling firms to get away with not paying taxes for taking the liquid and exporting it. The same author remarks that during the year 2000, 84 billion liters of water were bottled and sold around the world, and more than a quarter of it was sold in a country that it did not belong to. Throughout the same year, the water business generated 22 billion dollars. The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) published research in 2001 that states that, “The bottled water industry uses a 1.5 million tons of plastic per year to make the bottles, and it releases harmful chemicals into the atmosphere during the process.”

The quality of bottled water in Costa Rica is not the best that companies can offer, but they are mainly focused on just earning money despite the consequences. Humans and the environment are the ones that have to face the negative effects that the water business carries with it.

Did you know?

Despite its occasional problems, the tap water in Costa Rica is safe—or safer—than what the mega-corporations are selling. With these kinds of repercussions for a product that only contributes to global warming and wasting resources, do you really need that next case of bottled water?

[quote_box_center]If you’re finding it difficult to quit the habit all at once, check out Agua Costa Rica—a local company that has made it their mission their mission to quality water responsibly. Read more: Costa Rican Bottled Water Company Receives International Recognition for Quality and Environmental Sustainability“[/quote_box_center]