This is an awesome indusry. The beauty of this industry is the wide spectrum of investment possible. You can have a cottage industry serving the local area or an MNC bottling in one country and selling it across the world. The domestic filteration companies in a bid to sell their kits have classified tap water as non-potable. Governments have not done anything in clearing this FUD. Right from ultra developed countries to the developing ones and stagnated ones. They have not tried to educate the people nor improve the arcane technology being used to clean water and make it potable. No action has been taken by any government to stop this FUD regarding water in any way.
We now have people drinking nearly De-mineralized water and then to compensate for the minerals, we have doctors prescribing vitamins and other processed foods.
Now, the thing about bottled water is, you cannot start with De-mineralized water as a base and then star adding the required amounts of nutrients which were already present. If this was possible all these companies would have harvested the sea and humanity would definitely be happy with this endeavour. Since this is not the case, the base of any bottled water has to be , naturally occuring water. This is then to be treated to selectively eliminate the supposedly harmful constituents and then add a propreitory mixture of supposedly healthy constituents which in the end should have a pleasing effect on the sensory organs.
The argument in monetizing water is only one. That is, people are wasting it. Whenever anything is in abudance we tend to waste it. Now, bottled water is sold at geographical locations where water is definitely available in abundance. It is sold at a premium both at the areas of abundance and also where it is meagre in availability.
There was a time I enjoyed drinking water from a flowing river. Now, I a cant do that. That is because now I know that there are various industries along the flow path of the river which dump unprocessed industrial waste right into the river. Plain business. Plain bottom line.
I also always thought that smaller companies in their rush to grow up do not follow certain ethics towards the environment, will cut corners and end up damaging the external environment. But as they grow, they become more responsible(like humans). But it is not so, the larger organizations are cutting bigger corners in order to grow bigger(like humans). All this dumping makes the traditional water treatment and transport facility outdated. This in turn feeds the filteration mafia and in turn the bottle water industry. Modern business are waiting for any new demand being created. They are ready to supply to the demand. Just show me the demand. Here you have exceptional demand where doctors also join in by qouting the ill-effects of tap water. So, maintaining one's health is a great demand. With countries being told that globalization is the way to grow and survive in future economic scenarios, It is very easy for trans-national companies to heed the demand of countries across the world. If the FUD worked in one country it will work in another.
In the bottling industry investment can be minimum and also very high. For MNC's it is as easy as gobbling up a local bottling plant. Since a bottle of water is costlier than the same volume of soft drinks there is no doubt as to the reason of all the soft drinks companies having their own brand of bottled water. All these comapanies have cordoned off portions of rivers, springs and put their stamp of ownership on these natural resources, keeping it out of reach of the common man.
FUD related to air ended up with setting of oxygen bars. This failed miserably owing to the "un-controllable" natue of air. But water, can be contained, cordoned off. The time is not far off where we will have water bottled with a tinge of lemon, orange, strawberry etc. So, what about the common man? He makes up 99% of the world population, what about animals, birds......... Governments allowing bottling of water and then allowing it to be exported to other countries risk the natural rain cycle.
With no clouds, natural rain cycle, we will be a "RED" planet in the future and nobody will be there to see it.