The Raw Truth

I’m not buying expensive water trends, but maybe it’s time to start selling them.

I’ve lived quite a few places, but I’ve never had better water right from the tap than where I live now. I also live sort of in the middle of nowhere with a well in my yard that feeds water directly into my house. Raw. No filtration or treatment needed.

I’m lucky. I’m told I have the best water in the neighborhood. My seasonal neighbors next door get their water from the hose bib on my garage in summer because their water isn’t nearly as good.

The water from the municipal system in my hometown has always been good too. Growing up it was just water. It’s what I knew. But then you get older and travel and move away, and you start to notice those things that you always took for granted. In all but the worst of instances, Americans don’t have to worry about safe drinking water. And that fact for the most part is because of the work you do.

As a collective whole in this country, it’s sometimes amazing how disconnected we are from the products we so readily consume. There’s a lack of understanding of where and how products are made, where our food comes from, and how safe, clean water miraculously flows from the tap whenever we turn it on.

One of the more interesting results of that, especially as it pertains to the work you do, is the small, lucrative and mind-blowingly ridiculous raw — or live — water fad. It’s not dead, and it’s not cooked, smoked or cured; it’s raw.  

People have a variety of concerns with tap water, from the health effects of fluoride and other chemicals used in the treatment process to lead leaching and other potential contaminants, and view raw water as a healthier, albeit more expensive, alternative. The latter is certainly true anyway. Along with the lack of chemicals, live bacteria — somewhat euphemistically referred to as probiotics — and a higher concentration of minerals are among the touted benefits.

For these perceived benefits, you’ll pay handsomely. A 1-quart mason jar of Raw Sedona Artesian Spring water is listed on eBay for $5.95. That’s $23.80 per gallon, plus shipping. Raw water from Maine’s Summit Spring, one of the oldest natural spring sources in North America, according to its website, is currently unavailable on Amazon. Fortunately its standard spring water, taken from the same source as the raw but lightly processed and ozonated, is available. A 12-pack of 33-ounce bottles will only cost you $38.74, or a very modest $12.54 per gallon. And shipping is free if you’re a Prime member!

If you’re instead looking to avoid minerals but want to ensure you have the most expensive water on your block, you’ll want to turn your thirst toward Canada, the source of Berg iceberg water. A 24-pack of 16.9-ounce bottles of Berg, which is free from any trace of minerals, sells for $135.34. That’s right, $135.34, or $42.69 per gallon.

Raw water isn’t new, and icebergs aren’t really cutting-edge technology either. But bottling water from these sources and selling it for exorbitant prices is a more recent and peculiar phenomenon. It also shows a real lack of appreciation for the service you provide.

It’s insane and it underscores how important it is for you and your utilities to incorporate a strong element of public outreach and education in your operations. Help people understand where their water comes from, what’s in it and what isn’t, and above all, its value. And if that doesn’t work, maybe just start bottling your water and selling it for exponentially more than you charge to send it straight to customers’ taps. Send it out the door in a needlessly elegant glass bottle and you can charge even more — plastic, after all, isn’t the proper vessel for such sanctimonious consumers.

As for me, I’m in the process of making artisanal papyrus labels for my own brand of raw water, drawn from an ancient aquifer in my backyard and ladled lovingly into hand-blown glass bottles.

Enjoy this month’s issue. And thanks for delivering quality product at a palatable price.


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