UNDATED (AP) - Bottled water has long been seen as chic, but in a tight economy some consumers are starting to see it as a wasteful "rip-off."
Marketing and beverage analysts note that people are no longer so happy to spend a dollar or more for a 20-ounce bottle of water, when tap water is free, or nearly free.
Trade figures show U.S. Consumers spent 16.8 billion dollars on bottled water last year. That's an increase in growth, but it's reported as the slowest growth rate since the early 1990s.
The economic factor may be doing what environmentalists have been trying to do for years: wean people off the bottles of water touted as stylish and healthier than tap water.
Many cities have enacted pro-tap campaigns.
Chicago has started a 5-cent tax on plastic water bottles.
While it's tough to track rates of tap-water use, sales of faucet accessories -- such as those that purify water -- are apparently booming.