'Raw water' drinking trend: Is it safe?

Posted at 9:54 AM, Jan 04, 2018

Proponents of the "raw water" movement say people should be drinking treatment-free water to get what nature intended to give: beneficial bacteria and earth minerals.

Raw water is simply water that has not been treated. It may come from a natural spring.

Along the West Coast especially, raw water has become expensive as it is captured in bottles and sold to those seeking what they believe are the health benefits of it, The Washington Post reports.

Live Water is a company that sells it from Oregon's Opal Spring and says it is a natural probiotic, the Washington Post article says. But some experts who are focused on waterborne diseases say its unsafe for consumption.

There's a reason the government has Food and Drug Administration water regulations: filtration removes harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites that may be in any water source. 

Consumption of raw water is legal and up to the consumer, the Washington Post's report says. 

The minerals available in raw water are available in a healthy diet. A chemist at Bryn Mawr College, quoted in the Post's article, said water pulled from a spring has identical molecules to water from a tap. The difference is what else may be in there: other minerals but also things unseen such as animals relieving themselves in the water stream or dead animals that may be in it, too.

Experts warn to consider naturally occurring elements from groundwater contamination. There is also the potential for diarrheal disease from the parasite Giardia, which the CDC says is passed through feces.

A New York Times article in 2017 said a grocer in San Francisco stays out of stock of Live Water's raw water. A glass orb of the untreated spring water is $36.99, and it costs $14.99 for a refill.

Tourmaline Spring in Maine also carries raw water and touts it "is so naturally pure it exceeds every Federal and State guideline for drinking water from the ground."