I was walking out with my seven one-gallon jugs of water, which I refill at the market when they get empty, and I was reminded of friends who think buying bottled water has got to be one of the most foolish things a person can do.

I get where they’re coming from, as far as saving money, protecting the environment, not falling for meaningless marketing claims, and not supporting huge multinational corporations that extract hundreds of thousands of gallons of good water a day to be put into their bottles and sold for a profit while nearby residents struggle to get clean tap water, but going to the store to fill up from the water machine certainly can’t be as foolish as drinking water that’s contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals.

The first time I tested water for myself was in my first semester at college, and the test revealed the water in our dormitory exceeded health guidelines for several chemicals, including mercury and various fluorine and chlorine compounds. I’ve used purified water ever since.

We all know about the water crisis in Flint, Mich., where dangerous levels of lead were discovered in the water supply, leading to all sorts of illnesses. It is, perhaps, the most blatant example of water contamination we’ve seen, and yet, by no means is Flint unique. Data compiled by the Environmental Working Group from 2010 - 2015 showed this: 19,000 public water systems contained lead, and there is no safe level of exposure to lead; more than 170 million Americans are exposed to radioactive radium in their water; chromium-6, commonly referred to as “the Erin Brockovich chemical,” has been detected in public water supplies in all 50 states at levels that pose a cancer risk; 1,4-dioxane, a toxic industrial solvent, has been detected in tap water in 27 states, also at levels that pose a health risk.

Cities across the nation are struggling with water quality and safety. The main sources of contamination are chemical residues from pesticides and fertilizers, animal waste, household cleaning products, cosmetics, industrial and mining waste, and malfunctioning water treatment systems.

And that’s just the public drinking water. There are 15 million American households that get their water from private wells, which are not monitored or regulated by the EPA. Owners of these wells are responsible for ensuring that their water is safe, and that the wells are functioning properly, but how many actually check?

So no, I don’t think it’s foolish to go to the store to buy water, although it would probably be easier and more economical to use a water purifier, and after writing this column I’m pretty sure I’ll have one at home in the next few days.

While I’m on the subject of drinking water, I’ll note that I buy from a water machine rather than buying cases because of the plastic, and all the evils that go along with it. I like drinking alkaline water, at least some of the time, because of its purported health benefits. Often, I just squeeze a lemon into my water, which although acidic becomes alkaline once it is metabolized.

And finally, we all know the importance of drinking water for your health. A good guideline is to take half your weight, changing pounds to ounces, and make that your goal. So, if you’re 140 pounds, your goal is to drink 70 ounces of water a day. If you weigh 200 pounds, your goal is 100 ounces, and so on.

We can debate the merits of different types of water, but there is no question as to the utter foolishness of poisoning that upon which our lives depend.

For the past 30 years Goleta resident Evie Treen, a retired — but still volunteering — Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office employee, has made it her life's mission to bring fresh water, education and better sanitation to rural villages in Kenya, and with the help of community members like Santa Ynez Valley resident Jackie Abudd, that vision is quickly being realized. On Saturday, July 27, from 1 to 8 p.m., Abudd will host "Fandango at the Ranch," a fundraising event for Friends of Woni International, a nonprofit organization founded by Treen that supports small villages in Africa without water and other basic necessities.

Ron Colone can be reached at ron.colone@gmail.com