Officials with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority have a message for MetroWest residents: The tap is just as safe as the bottle -- and cheaper.


 


  Officials with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority have a message for MetroWest residents: The tap is just as safe as the bottle -- and cheaper.   ``If you're only buying bottled water for that reason, there's no reason to waste your money,'' spokeswoman Ria Convery said.   In its recently released 2007 drinking water report, the authority says it met state and federal guidelines on all 120 contaminants for which it tests. The report is being mailed to homes in communities that get agency water, including Framingham, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Weston, Newton and Waltham.   Marlborough and Wellesley also use the service as a backup.   As a separate effort, the authority reports in a cover letter that it tested for pharmaceuticals earlier this year after the Associated Press found that prescription drug traces had been discovered in drinking water supplies across the country. The drugs had been discarded in home toilets, with the chemical components surviving treatment at wastewater plants and getting inadvertently discharged into watersheds used for drinking supplies.   While there are no treatment plants near the authority's Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs, Convery said the agency decided to test for pharmaceuticals for the first time to allay public concern. None of the chemicals were detected.   ``We've had a lot of questions,'' Convery said, referring to consumers. ``We thought we might as well know for sure.''   To ensure quality, the authority examines reservoir water for bacteria, viruses and parasites. After treatment at its Marlborough plant, it then looks for 120 possible contaminants. Finally, the agency and local water departments test 300 to 500 samples each week for coliform bacteria, which are generally harmless but can indicate more serious problems.   In MetroWest, coliform only showed up once in 2007, the agency reported. In Weston, one of 16 samples taken in July contained the bacteria, but the level was still below federal allowances.   While lead comes from residential fixtures and pipes, not the water supply, the authority also works with local water departments to test for the chemical in homes that are known to have problems. While none of the authority's main municipal customers in MetroWest were in violation, Marlborough exceeded federal limits in five of 30 homes.   Officials in the city's Public Works Department could not be reached for comment.   Michael Morton can be reached at mmorton@cnc.com or 508-626-4338.