Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are making a killing on unfiltered, untreated spring water that may be teaming with contaminants.
A handful of companies have recently begun selling trendy 'raw water' at high prices promising their customers a more nutrient-rich drinking experience.
Tech executives and fitness fanatics might swear by the expensive 'untouched' bottled water, but the CDC warns that the cleanest springs and streams are homes to parasites and microorganisms.
We reveal the top risks you take when you sip 'pristine' spring water.
Live Spring Water, a 'raw' water company made infamous after failed juicer businessman Doug Evans sang its praises on Instagram last year, draws its good from Opal Springs in Oregon.
The springs are fed by a large aquifer far beneath the ground surface. The Deschutes Valley Water District gets its water from the aquifer, supplying locals with their tap water.
The water is regularly tested, but, according to the District site, it is in fact more than 70 years old, has remained uncontaminated since 1925 and is still distributed without filtration or treatment.
According to central Oregon news channel KTVZ, the tap water costs citizens of area towns about a third of a penny per gallon.
The station also reports that Live Water purchases its water from Opal Springs Water Company, which buys it from the water district.
After being transported to the south and repackaged in a fancy glass jug Live Water sells Californians $16 gallons of Oregon tap water.
Though Live Water's product should in fact be safe and clean, but it sends five percent of its profits to Find a Spring, a group that helps people do just that, and promotes itself through a video about the cleanliness of a spring water 'filtered by the Earth.'
Claims that water is meant to be drunk unfiltered and that we are removing nutrients ignores the many illness-inducing microorganisms that live in springs and streams.
While water drawn from within the aquifers deep beneath the surface is clean, water running through streams above ground is far from.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise campers and nature lovers against drinking spring water, even if it looks clear and clean, because parasites, bacteria and some of the same microbes that 'raw water' enthusiasts sing praises for can easily make you sick.
Simply referred to as crypto, this contaminant is commonly found in spring and other fresh water throughout the US.
The parasite likes to make its home in the intestines where it breads and causes diarrhea, stomach cramps and pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and dehydration.
An infected animal's feces also carry the parasite. If you drink water that has come into contact with the fecal matter, you are likely to suffer the same symptoms that animal did.
Crypto is an unusually hard parasite to kill. It has as protective outer shell that makes it resilient and able to survive without a host for long stretches of time, and even most chlorine treatment cannot kill it.
In 2016, there was a slew of 32 crypto outbreaks in streams and even pools across the US – including in an area of Oregon to the north of Opal Springs.
Drinking or even swimming in water that could have come into contact with feces puts you at serious risk of contracting this nasty bug.
2. Giardia lambia
Similar to crypto, anything that comes into contact with feces can become contaminated with this parasite.
About two percent of adults and between six and eight percent of children in the world get giardia and it is the most common intestinal parasite in humans in the US.
Most people get giardia either from drinking contaminated water or from touching surface that has been contaminated and then ingested the parasite off of their own hands.
The microscopic organism does well in soil, food and water, and is tough, like crypto. Giardia, too, can cause terrible bouts of diarrhea, stomach pain and headaches and ultimately lead to weight loss.
Giardia infections typically go away on their own, but doctors may prescribe antiparasitic drugs if if they do not.
Similar to E. coli, Shigella is a bacteria cause an estimated 74,000 to 600,000 deaths worldwide each year.
In the US, the CDC estimates that there are about 450,000 cases of the common bacterial infection every year.
Ingesting the feces-grown bacteria is the leading cause of dysentery – a form of diarrhea that causes gastrointestinal bleeding as well.
The bacteria commonly contaminates private drinking wells but can be found in springs and streams too.
4. Unidentified organisms
The CDC's archives include a number of microscopic images of samples taken from streams in the US.
Though the slides are not labelled, these water samples clearly contain living things that do not offer any advantages to your hydration experience.