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No, it doesn’t take gallons of water to make one gallon of purified, drinking water

But conservationists say it does take gallons of water when you consider all that goes into just one, small plastic bottle of drinking water.

SAN DIEGO — Water is the most consumed bottled beverage, but is a lot of water wasted to make the purified drinking water that goes into the bottle?

THE QUESTION

Rusty from Chula Vista sent the CBS 8 Verify team an email with the following question: I read where it takes several gallons of regular tap water to produce 1 gallon of bottled "Purified Drinking Water" using reverse osmosis. 

Is this true?

THE SOURCES

Mitch Silverstein, Policy Coordinator with Surfrider Foundation San Diego County

The International Bottled Water Association {Bottled Water | International Bottled Water Association}

THE ANSWER

This is false.

While it does take more than a gallon of water to fill a gallon water bottle, it’s not substantially more. That said, conservationists say that only tells part of the story.

WHAT WE FOUND

Most bottled water is purified through a system called reverse osmosis and that’s the system Rusty read about.

Reverse osmosis uses pressure to push water through a membrane that removes impurities, like bacteria and chemicals. The clean water goes into bottles and the rejected material - which includes some of the original water - is eventually discarded.

So how much water is wasted?

According to the International Bottled Water Association, which commissioned a study on this very topic, "Bottled water is a very small water user.

On average, it takes only 1.39 liters of water to produce 1 liter of finished bottled water (including the 1 liter of water consumed), which is the lowest water-use ratio of any packaged beverage product.

So, we can verify that it does not take several gallons of water to make a gallon of purified water.

But conservationists say that's only part the story.

They say, if you include the bottle that the water is sold in, the numbers change dramatically.

“So, actually, it's estimated that it takes 1.4 gallons of water to make a typical single use plastic water bottle,” said Mitch Silverstein, Policy Coordinator with Surfrider Foundation San Diego County.

He says the problem isn't the water you're drinking, it's the water that's used from start to finish.

“This is because we need to consider the plastic water bottle itself which is made from oil. Plastic is a fossil fuel product, and it takes a lot of water to manufacture from the extraction and refinement of that oil to the transport and everything in between, it takes a lot of water to create the bottle in the first place.”

Mitch says the solution is easy: reusable bottles that you can fill at home or in water filtration stations.

“If you want to save the planet and save money, switching away from single use water bottles is a great way to do that,” he said.

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