Dec 4: Mayer

Analysis of drinking water supply choices in a rural community in the Yucatan, Mexico reveals bottled water consumption is related to distrust of tap water 

Prof. Alex Mayer  GMES & CEE

Dr Latika Lagalo  MTU Business

A safe, reliable drinking water supply is an essential component of public health and plays a critical role in poverty alleviation. Negative perceptions of safety and aesthetics can cause consumers to reject municipal water supplies for drinking purposes and seek other sources, such as bottled water. In addition, municipal water services are not always reliable, especially in lesser developed countries. Only a few studies have examined choices of water supplies in poor, rural communities in lesser developed regions. This gap is important, since individuals in these communities are expected to have municipal supplies that are lacking and yet less income to spend on bottled water. We report on the drinking water choices of a rural Mexican community with three sources for drinking water consumption: tap, water and bottled water. We integrate socio-demographic factors with information on self-reported experiences of common “problems” of tap water, beliefs about the health risks of tap water and perceptions of tap water quality. We use a series of econometric models to explain the probabilities of choosing drinking water from either the municipal water supply, bottled water, or household wells; the fraction of income spent on bottled water purchase; and to isolate the most important factors determining choices of drinking water sources.