You’ve seen the water machines outside your local grocery stores. Why are people paying money to fill huge containers with water when most tap water is affordable and safe to drink? Turns out, companies are vying for business mostly among customers who worry about tap water quality.

In California, for example, a company like Watermill, “which runs a few dozen water vending machines across San Diego County, typically pays about $4,000 for the water that comes into the machines,” and it’s “city tap water that must meet state and federal water quality standards to begin with.”

The company then treats the water to improve its taste and quality and resells it for $70,000 a year per kiosk.” That’s quite a mark-up. Consumers pay about 25 to 35 cents per gallon of water at the machines, which is cheaper than bottled water but more expensive than tap water at home, which costs just pennies per gallon.

The industry is also lightly regulated and overseen by the California Department of Public Health, which last year inspected just two water machines in all of San Diego County.

It’s important that every home have clean, safe drinking water, utilities be competently monitored, and the public assured they can trust the water that comes through pipes into their homes.

Read the full article here.