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Redefining Water Treatment

Water has become a fairly accurate barometer of society's attitudes about health and sustainability. The fact that the human body is up to 75% water makes H2O safety an issue very close to our hearts... and in our hearts, and probably flowing through our hearts.

News that prescription drug residues were found in municipal and regional water systems throughout the United States is worrisome on several levels. Of course, what is the impact of this repeated, low-level exposure on the body, particularly young people? Even though the levels of the pharmaceuticals detected in the water supply were infinitesimal, consumers have voted very clearly with their dollars in favor of milk without hormones, produce without pesticides and meat without antibiotics. Those were detected teeny-tiny amounts, too.

Other disturbing aspects to this story: The lack of testing and the reluctance of the various water providers to talk about the subject; finding out that bottled water and home purifiers aren't an effective option to tap water; and being reminded, yet again, that much of the water we drink is treated sewage (with many intervening steps for purification, etc., but the bottom line is it's recycled).

What's the retail food industry take on all this? Finding pharmaceutical residues in the supply casts the whole debate over tap water vs. bottled water in a new light. Before any more talk about plastic and bottles and litter, perhaps we should start with the product itself. Let's first ask what it will take to make potable water itself sustainable.