Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Freshwater Sciences and Technology

First Advisor

Jenny Kehl

Committee Members

Oriol Mirosa, Ramiro Berardo


Bottled Water, Freshwater, Tap Water, Water


Discrepancies exist between the regulation of public tap water by the EPA and bottled water by the FDA. The Safe Drinking Water Act mandates the EPA to set national contaminant standards for drinking water as well as regulations to ensure source water protection, treatment, monitoring, compliance, enforcement, waste water, and public access to water quality information. Bottled water is subject to a differing mandate. As a food product regulated by the FDA, bottled water is required to comply with FDA food regulations as well as specific bottled water regulation regarding standards of identity, quality and cGMP. As a result of the discrepancies between tap and bottled regulatory frameworks, the water quality of bottled water is less certain than the quality of tap water. The purpose of this research is to examine EPA and FDA regulation of drinking water and determine if differences in water quality exist. To explore the regulatory frameworks, a mixed methods approach is employed examining regulatory regimes and compliance. The first method is a comparative analysis of EPA and FDA regulatory standards for 19 contaminants. The second method is a compliance analysis of 60 bottled water brands and 11 municipal water systems in the U.S. This study unpacks the complex system of U.S. drinking water regulation. Lack of water quality data is problematic for public health and should be corrected by thorough monitoring and reporting.