Have you seen the PUR Water TV Commercial where two guys walk into a store featuring a “water bar” where various treated waters from around the country can be tasted? The water-bistro suggests trying a glass of water from Colorado containing an acceptable level of lead. The reaction by the two patrons is outrage with one asking, “does anyone want to drink lead?” The commercial has been very successful promoting point-of-use water treatment devices to further treat tap water to remove trace levels of contaminants that may be present.
While many are concerned about being exposed to trace levels of impurities in treated drinking water, a new fad has recently developed suggesting that drinking “raw water” is a healthy alternative. Proponents of this growing fad claim that, among other things, raw water provides exposure to ‘good bacteria’ and is a natural source of probiotics. Supporters use similar arguments heard from drinking unpasteurized raw milk and the benefits touted as a natural, healthy food with improved taste. Foodborne outbreaks from drinking raw milk are well documented with exposure to bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella, E.coli and Campylobacter.
“Raw water” is supposedly unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water. In Arizona, a new company called Zero Mass Water specializes in a system that collects water directly from the atmosphere. Consumers of raw water share a wariness of tap water with added fluoride, chlorine, and the uncertainty of lead pipes and aging infrastructure that treated water must pass through. They contend that traditional bottled water removes beneficial minerals destroyed by treatment with ultraviolet light or ozone gas and passed through filters to remove algae. These concerns and others have led adherents to seek what is perceived to be a more back-to-nature approach to drinking water.
If you think treated bottled water is expensive, expect to shell out $30 or more for a 2.5-gallon jug with a short shelf life. Stored bottles of raw water have been reported to turn green if not used prior to the expiration date.
As amazing as it sounds, regulations have been slow to catch up to this new fad. The rules for selling traditional (treated) bottled water are imposed by states and the Food and Drug Administration, which does not specify how water be treated but sets acceptable amounts of chemicals and bacteria at a low level.
In 1974, Congress enacted the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the federal law that ensures the quality of Americans’ drinking water. The SDWA authorizes the EPA to set national standards for drinking water to protect against health effects from exposure to naturally occurring and man-made contaminants. All community water systems are required to monitor for regulated water contaminants and produce an annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). The CCR is the consumers ‘right-to- know’ about their drinking water and must contain information about the local water source(s), detection of any regulated contaminants, risks of contaminants, and other educational information.
According to the CDC, treatment of drinking water is considered one of the greatest public health advances of the century, virtually eliminating the scourges of water-borne disease from cholera, typhoid and dysentery that dramatically reduced US life expectancy in the early 1900s. The raw water movement is part of a growing disturbing trend of people thinking that they can buy out of public health and participate in a practice that most people in the world would avoid at all cost. SAMS Water has become the leader in proving innovative compliance solutions for maintaining water quality data used to produce annual Consumer Compliance Reports. While not designed to change opinions about the growing “raw water” trend, SAMS Water will keep your utility on track with monitoring schedules and alert you to lab data exceeding limits.