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Nonpublic Water Sources

EPA regulations that protect public drinking water systems do not apply to nonpublic sources. Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Using other nonpublic water sources, such as water from streams, ponds, and shallow wells not intended for drinking, means users are responsible for ensuring the water is safe from contaminants.

People choose to get their drinking water from bottled water for a variety of reasons including aesthetics (for example, taste), health concerns, or as a substitute for other beverages. It is an industry that continues to grow every year in the United States.

  • For basic health information on bottled water, visit CDC’s Bottled Water.
  • For basic information on bottled water, view EPA’s brochure on Bottled Water Basics [PDF - 1.39 mb].

Whether drinking water from a stream while hiking or from the local pond on your property, these water sources are not treated and can cause illness. While these sources may look pure, they can still be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other contaminants. There are many approaches you can take to providing yourself with safe water for both drinking and sanitation, while camping, hiking, and traveling.

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