A Deep-Dive Look at Water Consumption Habits in the U.S.

American Water, in partnership with OnePoll, recently surveyed 2,004 Americans about their water drinking habits and found that while most people – nearly 70%– trust their tap water, their confidence in the safety of tap water didn’t necessarily impact how they choose to hydrate each day.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States has one of the world’s safest sources of drinking water. Yet, according to the survey data, many people are still not taking advantage of this safe and reliable source of water. Despite the potential impact of  consumption habits on the environment, like those outlined in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent report, our survey revealed that people continue to use single-use plastic bottles.

After looking deeper into these findings, we discovered some common themes around people’s misconceptions about tap water. Here, we’ve outlined some simple tips you can take to make informed decisions about how you choose to hydrate.

  • Read your water quality report.

Only 65% of respondents had confidence in their ability to understand the water quality reports available to them. At American Water, we want every customer to not just read their report (which can be found here), but also feel confident in their understanding of it. With that in mind, we have addressed some FAQs on our website, and our customer service team is prepared to answer any other questions you might have. 

  • Ask yourself, why am I buying bottled water?

Of those who prefer bottled water, 32% said it’s simply a shopping habit they’ve picked up over the years. In fact, 36% said they always end up refilling a plastic bottle with tap water anyway. So, if you trust your tap water enough for a refill, it might be time to switch to a reusable bottle—it’s far friendlier to the environment and your wallet.

  • Understand the true cost of bottled water.

On average, bottled water costs nearly 2,000 times more than the water coming out of your faucet. But, you’re not the only one paying a price. The energy used each year making the bottles needed to meet the demand for bottled water in the United States is equivalent to more than 17 million barrels of oil—enough to fuel over 1 million cars for a year. Meanwhile, 70% of bottles are not recycled, and each one will take 1,000 years to biodegrade. 

  • Stay hydrated, while lowering your environmental footprint.

According to the survey results, the average respondent only drinks 4.5 cups of water every day, compared to the recommended 11.5 cups (for women) and 15.5 cups (for men). Considering that a 16.9 oz plastic bottle holds just over two cups of water, that would mean drinking and throwing out anywhere from 6 to 8 plastic bottles every day to stay hydrated. Are you willing to pay for, and be responsible for the environmental implications of, 2,920 plastic bottles every year?

American Water is committed to providing safe, clean, reliable drinking water to our customers. We look forward to helping them understand the quality of their water and the ability to take full advantage of the water coming from their tap.