Americans to Drink More Bottled Water Than Soda This Year

Danilin/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Perhaps it's a sign of Americans' increasing concern with health, a growing laziness about filling a water bottle at the tap, or even a fear of tap water contamination.

But Americans are this year for the first time expected to purchase more bottled water than traditional carbonated sodas.

Projections from market research firm Euromonitor show that this year each American will on average purchase 27.4 gallons of bottled water, more than the 26.2 gallons of carbonated sodas.

The gap has been closing for some time. Last year, Americans bought just 0.3 gallons more soda than water per person, down from a 1.9 gallon difference in 2014.

Euromonitor expects the gap to grow in favor of bottled water going into the future, with each American projected to buy 29.8 gallons of the healthy stuff in 2020 compared to 24.1 gallons of soda.

What’s driving this trend isn’t totally clear.

Bloomberg News, who first reported the trend, suggests that recent incidents of tap water contamination -- most notably in Flint, Michigan, where people were sickened by lead in the municipal water supply -- may be driving people towards bottled water.

However, industry leaders who spoke to ABC News thought that it was more about consumers seeking a healthy lifestyle and greater convenience.

Chris Hogan, a vice president at the International Bottled Water Association, told ABC News that fears of tap water contamination "may play a role in some people’s concerns more recently, but this is an ongoing shift that’s been in the works for several years.”

He added: “More than anything it’s a consumer shift from less healthy food choices to more healthy food choices.”

Additionally, he said, “A lot of what we’re eating now is while we’re on the move or food that we take with us.”

Gary Hemphill of the Beverage Marketing Corporation agreed.

“If you look at the U.S. beverage market, and I suppose it’s true globally as well, people are moving towards healthier options,” he said.

The trend of increased bottled water consumption goes back to the early 1990s, he said, when beverage companies began selling single-serving bottles of water for mass consumption.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Charlottesville mayor to issue statement on Robert E. Lee statue

Charlottesville mayor to issue statement on Robert E. Lee statueMark Wilson/Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer will issue a statement Friday afternoon after canceling a news conference at which he was expected to "make a major announcement" regarding the local statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the legacy of the woman killed during a protest sparked by the city's plans to remove the statue.

His news conference had been scheduled for noon on Friday, but the mayor tweeted Friday morning that "we are canceling today’s press conference and instead issuing a statement in the afternoon."

FYI all: we are canceling today’s press conference and instead issuing a statement in the afternoon. Stay tuned.

— Mike Signer (@MikeSigner) August 18, 2017

FYI, the reason for the change is we decided a statement rather than a press event was the best medium for the ideas I want to convey today.

— Mike Signer (@MikeSigner) August 18, 2017

The statement comes six days after a Unite the Right rally sparked by Charlottesville's plan to remove the Lee statue from a local park turned deadly.

The rally was attended by neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members. They were met with hundreds of counterprotesters, which led to street brawls and violent clashes.

A driver plowed into counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring several others. The suspected driver is in custody, facing charges including second-degree murder.

Despite the "painful" event, "we’re not going to let them define us,” Signer told ABC News earlier this week of the agitators.

"They’re not going to tell our story," he said. "We’re going to tell our story. And outsiders -- their time has come and gone. This city is back on their feet, and we’re going to be better than ever despite this."

Signer compared his hopes for Charlottesville's recovery to the aftermath of the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting in June 2015 that killed nine people. The gunman in that attack said he wanted to start a race war, but the tragedy instead united the city.

"There’s a memorial right now in front of Charlottesville City Hall that’s flowers and a heart that talks about the love that we have here. Those are the images that are going to replace these horrific ones from this weekend. That’s the work that we have as a country," Signer said.

"That’s what happened in Charleston. There were those horrible images of those people bloodied and killed and weeping from the church. But they were replaced quickly, steadily, by the work that started to happen. By people who said, 'You’re not going to tell our story for us. We’re going to tell our story.'

"And that’s what’s happening in this community. That’s my work as the mayor here -- is not to allow these hateful people who just don’t get this country to define us," he said. "And they’re not going to define us."

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