Some groups have sought to frame drinking water issues as a "bottled water versus tap water debate" and that confuses consumers.
Consumers are not uniformly replacing their public drinking water with bottled water; rather they are choosing bottled water over the other beverages available at the store and home.
We're All For Having a Choice
Consumers across the United States choose bottled water as an alternative to other packaged beverages because it does not include calories, caffeine, sugar, artificial flavors or colors, alcohol and other ingredients they may wish to moderate. Or, they choose bottled water because they are not always satisfied with the aesthetic qualities (e.g., taste, odor, color) of their tap water.
There are thousands of public water systems across the US, most of which are succeeding; but others are faced with occasional "challenges," emergencies, or natural events that may cause service interruptions.
Many consumers likely drink both bottled water and tap water depending on the circumstances. It does not, however, always amount to a tap versus bottled water choice.