• HOW much bottled water is getting sold?!?!?!

    Almost $19 billion last year:

    Mary Clare Carley leaves home each morning with a gallon water jug and carries it wherever she goes to stay hydrated.

    The 34-year-old teacher doesn’t remember when she last drank water from a tap. Instead she buys Crystal Springs or Great Value distilled water at supermarkets for $1 or less. “If I don’t have my gallon of water, I just feel incomplete,’’ said Ms. Carley, seated at an Atlanta food court with her giant water bottle.

    Despite obvious drawbacks—the plastic and the extra cost for something essentially free out of the tap—thirst for bottled water just keeps growing. U.S. bottled water volume rose 7% last year. That puts it on track to outsell soda by 2017, according to forecasts by industry tracker Beverage Marketing Corp. Nestlé SA, whose water brands include Pure Life and Poland Spring, sold more water than Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. sold soda last year, making Nestlé—not Dr Pepper—the No. 3 company in the U.S. for nonalcoholic beverages, according to Beverage Digest.

    You may remember Nestle from my Upshot piece where I noted that they funded a number of those studies showing everyone is dehydrated. Sigh:

    But water is so hot that most consumers buy it despite the environmental drawbacks.

    Meanwhile, dozens of smaller, high-end specialty-water brands with names like Real Water, People Water and HappyWater have begun flooding the market. They are backed by investors of all types who are trying to create higher margins with new bottle designs, exotic minerals and elaborate tales of provenance. Eternal’s label faces inward so shoppers view it through water, filtered by limestone, quartzite and sandstone from the Allegheny Mountains. Karma Wellness Water’s cap injects seven vitamins when you’re ready to drink. Other startups pitch birch water, maple water and cactus water.

    All you’re doing is making expensive urine. And buying something that you can get for almost free in your homes. But go ahead. Keep on saying stuff like this:

    Debra Ann Stokes recently stopped at Whole Foods in Atlanta to stock up on bottles of alkaline water, which has a high pH level that proponents say can neutralize acids and help the body absorb nutrients. “This goes down much different, smoother,’’ said Ms. Stokes, a 64-year-old belly-dance instructor, grabbing six one-liter bottles of Alkalife Ten.

    There are people forcing themselves to drink so much water that they’re concerned with how smoothly it’s going down? Baffling.

    @aaronecarroll

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