When most Americans are thirsty, they don’t need to look much further than their kitchen sink. After all, the water that comes from the tap is monitored for health and safety by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).1 However, there is a growing movement across the country for “raw water.” But what is raw water and is it better for you — or healthier — than tap water?
What is Raw Water, Anyway?
Generally, the term “raw water” refers to any unfiltered and/or unsterilized water that is taken from a spring. Companies that sell the water report that it’s better because it contains natural minerals that tap water doesn’t. Additionally, they tout the benefits of not having the added chemicals that are required by law for tap water.
Though, proponents of the raw water movement are quick to point out what raw water is not. Raw water is not the same as filling up your water bottle from a local stream or creek.
So, what are some of the pros and cons of Raw Water? Let’s take a look.
Raw Water Pros
For people who argue in favor of raw water over tap water, many have cited the fact that roughly 20% of the American population are drinking regulated tap water that has at least one violation of the EPA standards. These violations vary in seriousness, but such violations include contaminants or higher levels of treatment chemicals.
And while an easily remedied, one-off violation may not be cause for concern, prolonged violations very well could be. Especially those violations that can have adverse health effects to the populations these water utilities serve.2
Additionally, since the EPA requires tap water to be treated with certain chemicals, those behind the raw water movement cite the adverse effects that some of these chemicals have been linked to.
Two of the most controversial additives to drinking water are fluoride and chlorine.
First added to US drinking water in 1945, fluoride was initially added to eliminate unwanted microbes found in the water such as giardia lamblia and vibrio cholerae. Getting rid of these types of microbes are important for preventing such ailments as diarrhea and cholera.3,4 Additionally, fluoride was found to reduce cavities in the population by nearly 50%. Over the years, though, the argument against adding fluoride to drinking water has gotten louder: since fluoride is now added to other products like toothpaste and mouthwash to fight cavities, people are wondering if it’s necessary to keep adding it to drinking water.5
Raw Water Cons
While the voices of those supporting raw water are getting louder and their numbers continue to grow, there are plenty of people who are opposed to the movement.
For starters, getting water from the source and providing it to customers takes time and money. In this case, those arguing for tap water believe their point is very straightforward: it requires a lot more natural resources in order for the raw water consumer to get their water than it does for someone who drinks the water out of their tap.
For example, shipping bottled raw water to its final destination requires 32 times more fossil fuels than its tap water counterpart.6 It can be argued, then, that the more people who demand bottled raw water will increase the overall fossil fuel usage, which can increase overall air pollution.
Not only does shipping increase the pollutants in the air, but the bottles leave a carbon footprint that is much larger than that of tap water.
It is estimated, for example, that over 17 million barrels of oil are required to fulfil America’s current demand for plastic bottled water.7
In addition to the 17 million barrels of oil required annually, the Pacific Institute estimates that it takes approximately 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.8 Considering fresh water is rapidly becoming a limited resource across the world — both for human consumption and other natural resources — the fact that it takes more water to produce a single bottle of water lends a strong argument against the growing popularity of raw water.9
Proponents on both sides of the raw water debate have compelling reasons to support, or not support, the water’s popularity. Both sides cite health benefits, though they differ on what health benefits are more important to the end customer. No matter what side of the argument you may fall on, continue to research what solution is best for you and your family.
For more health wisdom from Eastern philosophies, keep reading here:
Holy Basil: The Divine Benefits of Tulsi (aka Ocimum Sanctum)
Why You Need to Try Acupuncture
Why You Need Sleep (4 crucial health benefits)