Living: On the Waterfront

Perrier and rivals make waves

The host calls for attention and, with a flourish, produces the bottle. His guests murmur approval as he opens it and pours. They slowly swirl their glasses, inhale the delicate bouquet and then sip. "A bit flat for my taste," sighs one. "Nonsense," retorts another. "It's delightful, light and refreshing." Says the host: "An amusing little water, if I do say so."

Not an unlikely scene, given America's appreciative thirst for bottled mineral water. After dusty decades on the back shelves of gourmet shops, the liquid is gurgling forth...

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