- People in San Francisco are spending up to $A76 for untreated, unfiltered water – and it is so popular that stores are apparently having a hard time keeping it in stock.
- Other Silicon Valley insiders are gathering and storing untreated spring water, The New York Times reported.
- But food-safety experts say that consuming “raw” water can lead to infections such as cholera, hepatitis A, and E. coli.
Silicon Valley is developing a “raw water” obsession.
In San Francisco, “unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water” from a company called Live Water is selling for up to $A76 for a 9.4-litre jug – and it’s flying off the shelves, The New York Times reported.
Startups dedicated to untreated water are also gaining steam. Zero Mass Water, which doesn’t sell raw water but sells tech that allows people to collect water from the atmosphere near their homes, has already raised $A31 million in venture capital, the report says.
People are gathering litres of untreated water from natural springs, venturing out onto private property by night to get the water, according to The Times.
Doug Evans, the founder of a startup called Juicero that shut down in September, told The Times that he and his friends brought 190 litres of raw water to the Burning Man festival last year.
“I’m extreme about health, I know, but I’m not alone with this,” Evans said. “There are a lot of people doing this with me. You never know who you’ll run into at the spring.”
On Tuesday, Business Insider’s Melia Robinson visited a San Francisco supermarket where Live Water sells its untreated water. Rainbow Grocery was sold out of its Fountain of Truth spring water, but a sign indicated a “slight price increase.”
The cost of a 9.4 litre jug had increased to $A76 from $A47 since The Times published its article on Friday.
While the price includes the glass container, a refill costs only $A20, according to The Times.
Though fans of the untreated water are not backed by science, many told The Times they felt confident they were getting health benefits from drinking it.
For example, Mukhande Singh, the founder of Live Water, told the publication his startup’s water expired after a few months – something he said was normal for “real water.”
“It stays most fresh within one lunar cycle of delivery,” Singh said. “If it sits around too long, it will turn green. People don’t even realise that because all their water’s dead, so they never see it turn green.”
However, food-safety experts say there is no evidence that untreated water is better for you. In fact, they say that drinking untreated water could be dangerous.
“Almost everything conceivable that can make you sick can be found in water,” one such expert, Bill Marler, told Business Insider. That includes bacteria that can cause diseases or infections such as cholera, E. coli, hepatitis A, and giardia.
“You can’t stop consenting adults from being stupid,” Marler said. “But we should at least try.”
Melia Robinson contributed reporting to this article.
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