California 'Raw' Water Snobs Are Paying $9 a Gallon For Oregon Tap Water


Californians are paying almost $9 for a gallon of water that costs Oregonians less than a penny a gallon.

A company in The Golden State is buying untreated spring water from central Oregon and selling it to people around the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, according to The Oregonian.

“The water’s been doing really well,” manager of Erewkhon Market in Calabasas Edwin Diaz said. “It’s kind of a specialty item.”

“Raw water,” water with no chemicals or other treatment because it is clean at the source, has become increasingly popular.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Lee Sayer, a musician in San Francisco, told The Oregonian. “You have water that’s processed through the earth through natural processes–it’s cleaned. And being that water has memory, it has a memory of tumbling through the rocks. It has micronutrients and I believe it’s alive.”

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There are only a few companies that sell bottled “raw water” in the United States. The one that uses the central Oregon spring water doesn’t even offer it in Oregon, this could be because the water comes straight out of their kitchen sinks.

“We view it as a bit of a gimmicky fad,” said Gary Hemphill from Beverage Marketing Corp. told The Oregonian.”There is the potential to have some interest and appeal with a small number of consumers, but by and large I think the market is driven by traditional bottled water, which is likely to have the greatest growth and the lion’s share of the market.”

There are nearly 1,300 water systems that pump untreated water to homes and businesses in Oregon,” Kari Salis, the technical manager of Oregon’s drinking water program, told The Oregonian.

Avion Water Co. is one of the companies that provides untreated water from Opal Springs in Oregon to stores in California.

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Another company, Summit Spring Water Inc., sells untreated water from a hilltop in Maine.

Silicon Valley has developed an obsession with “raw water,” according to Business Insider, where “unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water” is sold for a steep $61.

A 2.5-gallon jug of water, once sold for $37, has skyrocketed over the last week to a whopping $61 — a price difference stores such as Rainbow Grocery have deemed is a slight increase.

Companies in the nation’s top technology district, such as Zero Mass Water, have raised nearly $24 million in venture capital by selling tech that allows customers to collect water from the atmosphere near their homes.

Health experts warn of the new craze that hasn’t been backed by science.

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“Almost everything conceivable that can make you sick can be found in water,” Bill Marler, a food and safety advocate and lawyer, told Business Insider.

“You can’t stop consenting adults from being stupid,” Marler added. “But we should at least try.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith