For some consumers, purified tap water just doesn’t cut it.
That’s why Culligan Water of Columbia purchased Mountain Valley of the Ozarks last month. The move allows the local Culligan franchise to distribute not only Culligan’s purified water, but also the brands Mountain Valley Spring Water, Diamond Spring Water and Clear Mountain Spring Water. Each variety has a slightly different taste, said John Mulette, general manager.
Culligan water is purified, and trace amounts of minerals are added for flavor, Mulette said. “Certain people like liver and onions, and certain people don’t,” Mulette said. “Spring water is just a different flavor. One of the products, Mountain Valley water, comes in glass bottles. Some people don’t want to drink water out of plastic bottles; they want to drink it out of glass bottles. It’s just a matter of taste.”
Culligan Water of Columbia sells its standard Culligan water to 12,000 customers, and the company now serves 1,400 former Mountain Valley customers who purchase spring water. All three new waters are available now.
Water is big business. Health experts and businesses are encouraging employees to drink more water. Beverage Digest reports that the average American annually drinks 21 gallons of bottled water and 27 gallons of tap water, 11.5 percent and 15 percent, respectively, of the total beverages consumed. However, demand for bottled water is increasing while all other beverage categories except sports drinks are declining. Soda is still king, with 50.9 gallons, or 28 percent, of the beverages consumed per American each year.
Nationwide, a study by Restaurant and Institution magazine found that nearly a quarter of those age 26 or younger order bottled water with lunch, and bottled water ranks as the top beverage on college campuses. Environmentalists decry the bottled water craze because of the proliferation of plastic bottles. Some cities have begun to discourage bottled water use in favor of local tap water, questioning the need for bottled water at all.
“My own personal preference is city water; it’s really top-notch,” said Bill Watkins, Columbia city manager. “We’re very proud of the city’s water. Some people prefer bottled water, and I can’t speak for water from nearby local water districts.”
Bill Schulz has owned and operated Culligan Water of Columbia since 1970. The company, which was established in 1943, has about 50 employees.