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War On Tap: America's Obsession With Bottled Water

In 1976, the average American consumed a gallon and a half of bottled water each year. By 2008, the number had grown to about 30 gallons of bottled water per person in the U.S.

That amount, says Peter Gleick, "equals about 115 liters of water each year, most of it from single-serving plastic containers."

Gleick, a freshwater expert, is the author of Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water. In the book, he examines how drinking water was commodified and branded over the past 30 years, turning what was once a free natural resource into a multibillion-dollar global industry -- while raising questions about the taste and safety of drinking tap water.

"I think for the most part, we have great tap water," Gleick tells Terry Gross. "It's not always the case -- but it usually is."

Gleick is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the International Water Academy. In 2001, he was named a "visionary on the environment" by the BBC. He is the president and co-founder of the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit environmental research institute, where he researches the connections between climate change and water use.

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