WTF Is Raw Water?

The crazy Silicon Valley types have a new fad, that is potentially dangerous to your health. It is called “Raw Water” and is as stupid as it sounds. The trend is borne of distrust for the public water supply, including the disinfection processes the water undergoes.

According to a New York Times article published last week, a growing number of American water enthusiasts are turning off their taps and switching to unfiltered, untreated water from natural sources, paying up to $60.99 for a 2.5-gallon jug of raw water.

Raw water is untreated, unsterilized spring water. The health trend for drinking raw water has been branded potentially deadly by experts. The authorities say it can contain E. coli bacteria, viruses, and parasites as well as cancer causing compounds.

A few companies “produce” and sell it, including: Live Water in Oregon, Liquid Eden in San Diego, and Tourmaline Spring in Maine. In general, it’s gathered at running springs and bottled at nearby facilities. Live Water says they test each batch for bacteria before it goes to market and that each bottle has a shelf life of “one lunar cycle.”

“It has a vaguely mild sweetness, a nice smooth mouthfeel, nothing that overwhelms the flavour profile,” Kevin Freeman, a shift manager at Rainbow Grocery co-op in San Francisco, said to the New York Times. “Bottled water’s controversial. We’ve curtailed our water selection. But this is totally outside that whole realm.”

“Tap water? You’re drinking toilet water with birth control drugs in them,” Mukhande Singh, founder of Live Water who changed his name from Christopher Sanborn, said to the Times. “Chloramine, and on top of that, they’re putting in fluoride. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health.”

Advocates of the trend are “looking to get off the water grid” to avoid the added fluoride and chlorine, which they brand as “toxic”, and because of the lead pipes used in treatments. The consumers of raw water believe that it is better than traditional bottled water because minerals aren’t filtered out or added to it during processing. They also criticize bottled water for being treated with ozone gas.

Natural water sources are vulnerable to all manner of natural pathogens. These include any bacteria, viruses, and parasites normally found in water or shed from nearby flora and fauna, such as Legionella and Giardia lamblia. They also can easily pick up environmental contaminants and naturally occurring hazards such as radiation from certain mineral deposits.

According to the World Health Organisation, drinking contaminated water causes over half a million diarrhea deaths every year. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drinking water supplies in the US are among the safest in the world.

At the turn of the 20th century, public water utilities in the US started focusing on removing dangerous, disease-causing microbes from water — turning to chlorine disinfection for the first time in 1908. The disinfection effort has drastically reduced cases of deadly diarrheal diseases like typhoid and cholera that spread via contaminated water, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls “one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.”

Just use common sense and don’t drink raw water.