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Water water everywhere and some charge $40 a bottle for it

July 01, 2008

At any given time, I generally have a couple of one-liter soda bottles in my refrigerator filled with tap water.

I'm thinking of putting them on eBay.

I might never have considered that they had any value outside of Death Valley, had I not read a lengthy story in the Washington Post this week about water that sells for up to $40 a bottle - despite the contention of experts who were quoted as saying that the main difference between bottled water and tap water is the marketing. Blind taste tests routinely show that no one can tell the difference between bottled water and water straight from the tap.

I was thinking that if I ever had an extra $40 lying around I'd spend it on a gallon of gasoline, but that was before I visited the Web site of Bling H20, home of the "Limited Edition Bling H2O baby Crimson Red 375ml Bottle, Red Swarovski Crysta."

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I have no idea what any of that means, but all of a sudden the idea of drinking tap water out of a Pepsi bottle makes me feel as if I might as well be licking dew off of a turtle.

And certainly I want to be like one of the beautiful celebrity-type people with vacant stares that they show drinking their product. I'm curious though - what makes water a "limited edition?" Do they know something I don't? It's like breathing limited-edition air - makes you think we might run out sometime soon.

You have to admire Bling. It's all about the price. And the bottle - frosted glass, with a cork. They don't even bother trying to tell you that it comes from some secret spring in the Caucuses guarded by an order of blind monks.

I've always been dubious of that angle. How do I know what cattle have been walking through that spring? It's the same way I won't drink any water that has the words "ice" or "glacier" on the label. I don't know where that glacier's been.

It's kind of like Coors wanting you to buy its beer because it's somehow colder than the competition.

The Post story goes on to mention the extravagances of other waters purchased by people who are easily separated from their money - restaurants that serve water for $5 and provide a water steward to ensure the proper water is matched to your food.

And from Hawaii comes a 2-ounce bottle of "concentrated water" for $33.50, which you make into drinking water by, you guessed it, adding water.

You wonder whether people who engage in these practices feel even remotely foolish at some level, or whether they totally buy in.

Personally, I prefer the other end of the scale, one represented by our pig Magellan, who drinks water while standing in it. It should be mentioned that the animal's feet are not terribly clean.

For a while, I kept running him clean water every time he'd befoul the fresh stuff - which was every time he drank. His snout isn't terribly clean, either. I finally have given up on the process as hopeless, when I noticed him in the corner of his pen comfortably munching on a hunk of mud.

To him, water is water and so what if it's brown? In this way, the pig is smarter than the celebrities.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on www.antpod.com.

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