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5 Reasons to Say No to Bottled Water Forever | Part Three | Shady Business Practices

Reason #4. Shady Business Ethics & Practices

 

In this day and age, more and more are companies of all kinds expected to be accountable for their business practices. Wasteful and parasitic business practices that were implemented without a care towards the long term impacts on our environment, our health and the security of our future on this planet have abounded unchecked for several decades, especially in the realm of food and water supply.

And it could arguably be said that there is no industry quite as lackluster in the ethics department than that of bottled water. And people are starting to wake up to it.

In Washington, for example, the senate recently passed a bill banning water withdrawals for commercial bottled water production. In this legislation, which applies to all water withdrawal permits submitted after January 1, 2019,  they write, “any use of water for the commercial production of bottled water is deemed to be detrimental to the public welfare and the public interest.”

You might be wondering, what is so detrimental about commercial bottled water? Washington is a state full of glacier-fed rivers.  Local activists in Randle, WA make a very valid point when they say bottled water companies are taking their water virtually for free, depleting springs and aquifers, then packaging it in plastic bottles and shipping it elsewhere for sale. The outcry from Washington residents is echoed by residents of other states like Michigan, Maine, Oregon and Montana where similar push back against commercial bottled water plants has arisen.

To give you an idea of the impact one such plant can have on a local community, one of the permits this legislation would affect is a permit by Crystal Geyser to extract 400 gallons of water a minute.

Mary Grant, a water policy specialist with the environmental group Food and Water Watch, illuminates the necessity and importance of this legislation when she says, “As water scarcity is becoming a deeper crisis, you want to protect your local water supply so it goes for local purposes. [Bottled water] is not an industry that needs to exist…This legislation would help protect the state’s water resources, helping keep the limited freshwater supplies in the state, for the public benefit and the public good. It would ban one of the worst corporate water abuses — the extraction of local water supplies in plastic bottles shipped out of watersheds and around the country.”

This makes a lot of sense when you remember what we discussed in the first blog of this series: how bottled water isn’t any safer or better than tap water, and a lot of times, IS tap water. According to the Food and Water Watch, nearly two-thirds of the bottled water sold in the US comes from municipal tap water. Yet another example of the deceitful business practices of these companies – marketing their water as fresh from a “spring source”, when in reality, it just comes from the tap more often than not.

If you were to ask the bottled water companies themselves, they would disagree with this. They would tell you their plants are vital for jobs and absolutely vital in the event of disaster relief.

Do the jobs made available from a bottled water plant really outweigh the potential drain on local watersheds and water sources in the age of water scarcity? Do those jobs outweigh the staggering energy and environmental costs I reported in part two of this blog series? In the event of a disaster, couldn’t private companies like us step up and help out, like we did back in 2005 when the hurricane hit New Orleans and we filtered 50,000 gallons of water a day for victims and search and rescue personnel? 


In an emailed statement regarding these various legislations, Jill Culora, the VP of Communications for the International Bottled Water Association said the legislation is “based on the false premise that the bottled water industry is harming the environment.” she continues, “All IBWA members are good stewards of the environment. When a bottled water company decides to build a plant, it looks for a long-term, sustainable source of water and the ability to protect the land and environment around the source and bottling facility.”

Sounds pretty thoughtful and ethical, right? But is it true? 

This quote brings me very conveniently to my next shady business practice of this industry. This industry which, by the way, sold 19 billion dollars worth of product in 2018 and is expected to grow to 24 billion dollars in the next three years.

 

Crystal Geyser, which is under the parent company CG Roxane, LLC, is indeed a member of the IBWA. And when the residents of Randle, WA started fighting back in fear of Crystal Geyser’s intention to pump 400 gallons of water a minute from their quiet valley near Mt. Rainier, the company’s mafia-like approach to combat the local community was exposed in a leaked email in what can only be described as the most ironic twist of fate.

 

This email, written from Crystal Geyser’s Chief Operating Officer Page Beykpour and addressed to “Ronan” (the President of Crystal Geyser is Ronan Papillaud) exposed the company’s back up plan to sue the nearby local subdivision in response to neighbor opposition, and conduct an underground public relations campaign to gain support for the proposed bottled water plant.

You know who else is a highly awarded member of the IBWA? Nestlé Waters North America (Stamford, CT). In 2018, Nestle took 45 million gallons of pristine spring water from California’s Strawberry Creek, a network of clear streams that runs down a rocky mountain in a national forest two hours from Los Angeles, and bottled it under the Arrowhead Water label.

 

Tom Perkins, a journalist for the Guardian reports in his shockingly eye-opening article, “Though [Strawberry Creek] is on federal land, the Swiss bottled water giant paid the US Forest Service and state practically nothing, and it profited handsomely: Nestlé Waters’ 2018 worldwide sales exceeded $7.8 billion. Conservationists say some creek beds in the area are now bone dry and once-gushing springs have been reduced to mere trickles. The Forest Service recently determined Nestlé’s activities left Strawberry Creek ‘impaired’ while ‘the current water extraction is drying up surface water resources’.”


How’s that for award-winning good business ethics and being a “good steward of the environment”? Are these the actions of an industry leader that actually cares about the local communities they are profiting off of? 

 

But wait, there’s more…..

Crystal Geyser pled guilty this past January for illegally storing and transporting hazardous wastewater that contained insane levels of lethal arsenic –  8 times higher than the hazardous waste limit. 

For the past 15 years, Crystal Geyser, which draws its groundwater from the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains and has naturally occurring arsenic in it, would filter it for drinking using a series of sand filters and a backflush of sodium hydroxide solution – this, in turn, generates thousands of gallons of arsenic-contaminated wastewater. 

So what did they do with that highly lethal, arsenic-laden wastewater, you ask? In a breathtaking display of careless ethics, they put that wastewater in an “arsenic pond” they created in a remote part of eastern California. Around 2013, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board tested the water in this arsenic pond and found the levels so highly concentrated (8 times higher than the hazardous waste limit) that it would certainly pose a risk to the local groundwater and wildlife. In 2015, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) did their own test of the arsenic pond, determined the arsenic level was five times higher than the federal hazardous waste limit, and they had a meeting with Crystal Geyser/CG Roxane to inform them that they were in serious violation of a few things.

So how did Crystal Geyser remedy this awful situation? Their solution was to pay two companies to take the water away, which, according to the US Justice Department, was done “without the proper manifest and without identifying the wastewater as a hazardous material”. Those companies, which were also charged at the federal level along with Crystal Geyser, ended up taking 23,000 gallons of arsenic juice and discharged it into a sewer at a Southern California facility that in no way is authorized to receive or treat such hazardous material.

For this grievous environmental law-breaking, Crystal Geyser is expected to be sentenced to pay 5 million dollars. Which, lets be honest, is hardly a dent in the profits they make.

There are so many other examples of how these companies take full advantage of local populations and the environment – how they exaggerate job promises and undertake cheap ploys, like donating to local boy scout groups, in order to charm small town officials who hold the key to precious springs and water sources. They also constantly lobby and make campaign contributions at both federal and state levels to ensure the government remains diffident on its regulations.

The first step to holding companies accountable is to get real about what their impact truly is. And then, to stop supporting them by buying case after case of bottled water.

In lieu of these shady business tactics and lackluster ethics, it really makes so much more sense to purchase a reverse osmosis drinking water system and use refillable bottles whenever you can. It takes individuals like you and me, complaining to venues and restaurants that require you to buy bottled water instead of allowing you to fill your own, and making them answer to our demand.

That’s how we enact change.

That’s how we support our communities and our precious resources.

That’s how we make a difference and bring ethics back into our businesses.

Reverse Osmosis Water: How Does It Work?

Lovingly referred to as “RO water” in our office, reverse osmosis water is the safest, most preferred way to filter your drinking water, hands down.

A lot of modern technologies for purifying water sources involves, somewhat incongruously, adding various chemicals into it – such as chlorine or its hybrid cousin, chloramine (a not-so-reassuring blend of chlorine and, if you can believe it, ammonia!) all in the interest of killing harmful bacterias, algaes and overgrowths.

Yes, yes, they say such chemical additives are safer for us, and there is some truth to that, but groups like the Environmental Working Group beg to differ, claiming that there’s already a ton of harmful chemicals in our water sources that haven’t even been named and studied by the EPA – and for those that HAVE been studied, the amount deemed to be safe hasn’t been updated in over 5o years. Yikes!

Reverse osmosis technology is the only type of purifying filtration that doesn’t use any chemicals to make your water pure and safe. Rather, it uses a semi-permeable membrane that separates water molecules from everything else – not only by the size differential of the water molecules, but also by molecular charge. Literally, everything else can’t pass through the membrane -even miniscule contaminants like paint pigments or even tobacco smoke can’t get through.

 

 

All that leftover contaminant guck gets drained away in a little dribble of waste water. Speaking of the waste water, at Kinetico we’re widely renowned for our distaste for overt waste and that’s why for the Kinetico K5, our best RO unit to date, it produces only 1 gal of waste water per 1 gal of clean and pure RO water….unlike our competitors. Theirs tend to average around 3 gal of waste water per 1 gal of of RO water.

Plus, that K5 has another unique feature to us – the Everclean Rinse: its uses that fresh, clean RO water to rinse the membrane off every time the storage tank tops off, extending its life and ensuring purity with every pour.

So what’s the catch?

There’s two primary arguments that come up when people are considering the Do I or Don’t I question of RO water:

The Water Pressure

RO units rely on pressure to push the molecules through the membrane. And not all water pressure is created equal. In fact, the water pressure varies greatly from source to source. The average city water source emerges somewhere between 40 – 100 psi (pounds per square inch); well water, on the other hand, has a little bit less – 20 – 60 psi depending on the pump.

Not to mention, there’s factors like temperature and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) that also impact the ability for RO’s to make water. This is why they always have a storage tank of some kind, so there’s a large stock of water ready to use on demand. BUT, most storage tanks use an air bladder with a pressure of about 5 – 9 psi. And for a 3 gallon tank, there’s usually only about 1.25 gallons of water in there due to bladder displacement. As the tank begins to empty, the pressure at the faucet dwindles down to an annoying dribble. And who wants to wait 12 minutes to fill up the coffee pot?

Not I, said the hen. And neither do you, I imagine.

That’s why Kinetico offers the aptly named WOW storage tank (water-on-water). It uses the water pressure of the home (40 – 60 psi) to propel water to distant locations. In the 3 gal WOW tank, there’s 2.7 gal of stored clean water and the impressive flow rate is consistent all the way until it empties. And when it needs to refill, there’s no bladder resisting it, so it refills quickly. That’s why you can get up to 40 gallons per day of fresh, pure water from the K5 Reverse Osmosis System.

 

It Takes the Good Minerals Out

Here’s the thing: water has never been a primary source for you to get your minerals. You get them from food or food supplements. Even if you were to drink an entire bathtub of mineral-rich water in a day, you might not get 10% of the minerals your body needs.

The benefit you get from drinking unfiltered water and it’s minor amount of beneficial magnesium and calcium does NOT outweigh the catastrophic impact of all the OTHER stuff in that water: lead, arsenic, chromium, nitrates, chloramines, PFOA & PFOS as well as about 35,000 + of other chemicals.

 

However, if you like the taste of mineralized water and still feel like every little bit helps, then the K5 Reverse Osmosis System DOES have the capability to re-mineralize the water. All you need to do is add the Mineral Plus cartridge in there, which costs $73 and only needs to be changed every other year – this will put the absorbable forms of magnesium and calcium back into your drinking water where it won’t harm your pipes.

In this day and age, when chemicals abound unrecognized in seemingly “safe” water supplies, it really comes down to you to stay informed on what’s happening and take the necessary steps to provide safe drinking water for hearth and home. Reverse osmosis water is a no-brainer investment that will provide returns on your family’s health for generations to come.

Contamination Watch: PFOA & PFOS

BY SHERIKA TENAYA

 

You may hear them quietly mentioned in the media under the unassuming acronym of PFAs, which stands for per-and polyfluroalkyl substances – a name that hardly describes the prolific and destructive nature of America’s not-so-new class of star contaminants.

 

What is it?

 

The two most common types are perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoroctane sulfonate (PFOS), and they are used in things like pesticides, firefighting foam, non-stick cookware coatings, food packaging, stain repellents, paint, cleaning products, textile and leather products, metal plating, electronics and the like.

 

These man-made chemicals are in no way naturally occurring in our world and are, in fact – as of the early 2000’s – no longer allowed to be manufactured in the US.

 

A blessing, to be sure, but not enough to keep us safe. Especially since the EPA’s Significant New Use Rules (SNUR) still allow for them to be used in a few, “highly technical” applications and allows for existing stocks created before the SNUR came into effect to still be used.

 

The problem is, the same thing that makes them so useful in these various applications is the very thing that makes them so destructive for us and our environment: they have a unique ability to withstand high temperatures, water, grease, as well as strong acids. They simply don’t go away or degrade over time.

 

During the manufacturing process, large amounts of these compounds were released into the air, soil and water around these flurochemical facilities. As of May 6, the Environmental Working Group reported 610 different sites spanning across 43 different states. That’s a bare minimum of 446 different communities with detection of PFAS contamination in their tap water supplies.

 

And keep in mind, these numbers are impacted by the fact that some states are slow to focus on detection of these compounds – so the numbers may very well be much higher.

 

Where is it?

 

In their anionic form, they are water soluble and can transfer easily from the soil to the groundwater, where they are carried far and wide. Indeed, PFOS have already been found to be bio-concentrated at concerning levels in fish.

 

So how do we get exposed? The biggest culprit is the water you drink and bathe in, next is the ingestion of food grown in contaminated soil as well as ingestion of farmed fish – but you could also be exposed when you use commercial products, and even from inhaling particulate in the air over which PFC-containing planes have passed by.

 

If you live near a garbage dump site, a military base, a section of land where firefighters work or practice (or have in the past worked and practiced), and of course, near a flurochemical production facility – you are more than likely exposed.

 

What are the impacts on my health?

 

To be totally honest, they haven’t done much testing on the impact on human bodies, although we do know some things, for example – toxicology studies show that PFOS and PFOA are readily absorbed after eating/drinking/inhaling and accumulate primarily in the serum, kidney and liver.

 

We know that PFOS and PFOA have half-lives in humans ranging from 2 to 9 years, depending on the study. This lengthy half life basically means that these chemicals hang out in your system, increasing the burden on your detoxifying organs over time and more than likely resulting in chronic toxicity. Indeed, chronic exposure to PFOS and PFOA has been shown to lead to the development of tumors in the liver of rats.

 

Speaking of which, let’s talk about the research done on animals in regards to these chemicals:

 

Acute- and intermediate-duration oral studies on rodents show that they can have “concerning impacts” on rodent growth development, reproductive system, neuroendocrine system and can also mess with the rodents’ fatty acid metabolism and may deregulate metabolism of lipids and lipoproteins. Translation: wonky energy, screwy hormones, increased toxicity, stress on the heart, and several other potentially dire effects. 

 

And let’s not forget about cancer. In May 2006, the EPA Science Advisory Board said that, in regards to the PFOA cancer data, it is consistent with the EPA guidelines for the Carcinogen Risk Assessment descriptor and are “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

 

What can I do?

 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there’s three ways to filter for these contaminants.

 

The first is through activated carbon treatment, which is effective because it is highly porous and also provides a large surface area to which contaminants may absorb. It  is made from organic materials with high carbon content such as wood, lignite, and coal; and is often used in granular form called granular activated carbon (GAC).

 

GAC has been shown to effectively remove PFAS from drinking water when it is used in a flow through filter mode after particulates have already been removed and has been shown to work well on both PFOA and PFOS.

 

The second method is high-pressure membranes, such as reverse osmosis, which have been shown to be  extremely effective at removing PFAS. According to the research, more than 90 percent effective, to be exact.

 

Finally, there’s ion exchange. Ion exchange resins are like tiny powerful magnets that attract and hold the contaminated materials from passing through the water system. The negatively charged ions of these PFAs are removed with anionic resins. However, these can be a bit more spendy.

The Simple Solution:

 

In removing PFOA & PFOS, our K5 Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System gets the job done and, further, has been certified by the industry’s NSF/ANSI 58 standard for removal of these contaminants, as it has both the high pressure reverse osmosis membrane mentioned above as well as the activated carbon, covering both types of contaminants mentioned here.

 

When it comes to the health and well-being of your family, it’s important to give some deep contemplation towards your values and personal responsibility when it comes to preventing or minimizing toxin exposure to those who rely on you for their well-being. We all have a responsibility as modern day humans to evaluate how we can be as effective as possible in keeping our personal environment, as well as our communal environs, as safe and sustainable as possible.

 

Announcing Our Game-Changing Whole House Leak Detection System

BY SHERIKA TENAYA

 

Leak and flood damage is one of the most common homeowner insurance claims.

 

In fact, the average claim is $8,000 and that’s not including the high deductibles that come along with it.

 

Undoubtedly, you or someone you know has experienced a disastrous water leak that caused irreparable loss and expensive damage, not to mention extreme frustration.

 

Here at Kinetico, we are all about preventing damage before it happens and we aim to stop the problem before it starts. This philosophy is what has helped us help you save time and money and preserve the peace of mind that goes hand-in-hand with excellence and a little bit of forethought.

 

This is why we’ve partnered with a leading leak detector developer to offer an award-winning, comprehensive and streamlined option for leak detection and damage prevention. Capable of indoor or outdoor installation, this complete system comes in one box, so there’s no need to piece together what you need.

 

Here’s what’s involved in this simple-to-use, no-nonsense tool:

  • Smart Hub
  • 4 Leak Sensors
  • Water Shut-Off Valve
  • App

The Hub

  • This long-range, bluetooth device pairs to each sensor via a unique technology called Zigbee – which is a particular radio frequency that works regardless of wi-fi failure/inconsistency to shut off the water in the home. Though the Hub DOES need wi-fi in order to send alerts to your app.
  • One hub can pair with 31 sensors across 6,000 square feet.
  • It also comes with a power back-up capabilities, using batteries, to upkeep protection even when there’s power outages.
  • It will send notifications to the App and your devices as texts or emails.

The Sensors

  • Long Battery Life: no outlet needed.
  • Detects both the presence of moisture as well as changes in ambient temperature. (Say goodbye to black mold!)
  • Fast response: sends alert within five seconds of detection.
  • Simply place the leak sensors in 4 different leak-prone areas around your home – such as near water-using appliances, toilets and sinks and they’ll offer alerts in the form of flashes, beeps and alerts sent via the app to your phone or device.

Shut-off Valve

  • Connects to the main water supply: shuts off water to the home.
  • Turns off water within seconds
  • Back-up powered with batteries during power outages for full protection and peace of mind.

App

  • Constant protection: alerts are sent any time there’s detection – day or night.
  • Capable of sending alerts to multiple contacts
  • Interoperable: pairs with multiple home monitoring devices.

Other Awesome Things-To-Know

  • This system is customizable! You can add additional sensors or other enhancements.
  • If needed, you can shut the water off to your home from a remote location. This control can be given to multiple devices!
  • This senses both minor and major leaks so you can stop a problem from escalating.
  • Professional installation: our water experts will install and set up the system for you.
  • 5 year warranty – not offered by ANY of our competitors (most warranties are 1-2 years)
  • Operable with Amazon Alexa, Google Nest & Samsung Smart Things
  • Multi-faceted use: Because this can sense changes in ambient temperature, your app will tell you if the temperature drops to freezing, and because you can remotely shut off the water to the home, you will never be in danger of your pipes freezing!

For more information about this product and to see what it looks like, click here.