Drink this up. Despite what the marketers of bottled water have almost convinced us of, there remains little scientific evidence that drinking eight cups of water a day does anything more for your health than make you pee a lot.

A piece in last week's Health Section of the New York Times cites a new study in the June issue of The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, which reports that researchers can't even find where the "at least eight cups of water a day" rule came from.

"Under normal circumstances," Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a co-author and a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania told the Times, "drinking extra water is unnecessary. I want to relieve people of the burden of schlepping water bottles around all day long."
Beverage Digest, which tracks trends in the industry, reports that the amount of liquid consumed by the average American holds steady at an estimated 182.5 gallons per year. Bottled water's share of that amount is growing, while all other drinks, including milk, is declining, according to one report.

So all that water you're supposed to drink to keep you healthy? It will cost you $0.00135, or about 49 cents a year if you drink it from a New York City tap. It goes without saying that cost is probably much less in most other areas of the country.

Or you could continue to spend 2,900 times as much, roughly $1,400 yearly, by drinking bottled water. And with all that extra money you're spending, you're also piling on the karma of contributing to the nation's waste heap and encouraging more of the industrial emissions that are contributing to Global Warming.

In my town near Los Angeles, a water engineer I know laughed derisively when asked what kind of bottled water he drank. "I drink the tap water," he says, looking at us like we were idiots for doing otherwise.

But the trends in American thirst quenching continue to favor the expensive option, as overflowing trash bins suggest. Bottled water is growing at the expense of nearly all other beverages, including coffee and milk, and is closing in on beer. Only the sports drink category is growing faster.

Something to digest next time you reach for that plastic bottle of $1.50 Fiji water. Your tap is just as good, and actually a greener option.

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