Bottoms Up: ‘Raw’ water trend is on the rise but is it really good, safe or you?
A new trend has people turning off their faucets and heading to the woods to forage their own water.
It’s a fad sparking major concern for doctors, as people are leaving filtered water behind
for untreated spring water, also known as raw water.
“Honestly, my first reaction was of concern,” said Jaime Cook, spokeswoman for Collier Department of Health. “Raw water is obviously not treated, not filtered, so you don’t know what is in that water and the public health implications of that could be very significant.”
Despite health concerns, some people are not only collecting the water themselves but are even buying the raw water from a company called “Live Water,” who is selling it for more than $30 a bottle. According to CBS News, the bottles are sold at a San Francisco, California co-op called Rainbow Grocery.
In a marketing campaign for Live Water on YouTube, the founder, Mukande Singh, is seen drinking water from a spring and gathering it in glass containers.
“A surge of energy and peacefulness entered my being,” he said in the video.
Drinkers of this water say it is free of “industrial toxins.” According to CBS News, Live Water claims their spring water is rich in healthy microbes because it is not processed.
Despite the exotic footage seen in the videos, Live Water sources from the same monitored spring that feeds the municipal tap in Madras, Oregon.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say water is filtered for a reason, according to CBS News.
But it is a trend Fort Myers shop owner Whitney Hackett is interested in learning more about. She heard about raw water when listening to podcasts. She said she drank from a spring when working on a farm years ago, and is going to look into possibly starting to drink it again.
“People are saying it’s really healthy, it’s really natural,” Hackett, who owns Quartz and Clover in downtown Fort Myers, said. “If it is healthy then, you know, it perks my interest, but I think you have to be wary of where you are getting it.”
There are 22 natural springs in Florida, according to Findaspring.com, a website that helps people find springs where they can collect water to drink.
We visited one of those springs, located in North Port, to find out if people were drinking the water.
“We do not allow anyone to bottle the water,” said the City of North Port spokeswoman Erin Bryce. “It is a natural spring and we really want to maintain and protect the natural resource of Warm Mineral Springs.”
We asked bathers at the spring if they would ever drink the water.
“Never,” they said.
Warm Mineral Springs has one of the highest mineral contents in the world, according to Bryce.
Findaspring.com has a disclaimer on their website that reads:
“Please independently test all spring water before you make the decision to consume it. This website is simply a source for locating springs, we do not validate water safety. You take full responsibility for your decision. Any spring listing on this site does not mean that the publishers and authors of this site condone the consumption of the water from said spring. Your use of this site indicates that you assume full responsibility for any adverse effects of consuming water from any source on this site and will not hold the publishers, authors, webmasters, administrators or maintainers of this site liable for any damages stemming from the use or misuse of this information.”
We asked the website authors why Warm Mineral Springs was listed as a place to gather water, but have not heard back.
Cook said she hasn’t heard of anyone locally drinking raw water. With waterborne illness being one of the easiest preventable diseases, she says she is not sure why anyone would want to put themselves at risk by drinking unfiltered water.
“Anything could be in that water from pesticides, fertilizers, animal feces, human feces,” Cook said.
“Experts say raw water may contain beneficial minerals,” according to CBS News. “But a healthy diet can provide the same health benefits, and it may not be worth the risk of the harmful bacteria and parasites often found in unfiltered water.”