How does water treatment occur? Step one is coagulation and flocculation. This is a fancy way of saying that dirt has a negative charge so adding a chemical with a positive charge will grab the dirt floating in the water (opposites attract). This new bigger particle is heavy and settles to the bottom of the water (sedimentation). Filtration happens next. Small holes allow water to pass while trapping bigger particles (remaining dirt, bacteria, etc). Lastly, a small amount of chlorine is added to kill any remaining viruses and bacteria.
What are the health risks of consuming “unfiltered, unsterilized, untreated spring water?” Unfiltered and untreated water even from the cleanest streams can contain animal feces which can lead to the spread of Giardia, Hepatitis, E. Coli and cholera. Not to mention, runoff from our streets generally drains through a creek system. Because of the advances in sanitation and safety of our water supply, most of us don’t know anyone that has died of hepatitis and cholera (although a recent outbreak in the homeless population in California led to 20 deaths in 2017). Ever hear of dysentery, that illness which can kill people by extreme dehydration from nonstop defecation (pooping)? It’s another example of water-borne illness. Even for those who recover, it’s hard to imagine them calling bloody diarrhea a fun way to spend 2-4 weeks of recovery time. One last example is naegleria fowleri. This little amoeba isn’t ingested, but if some water contaminated with this species accidentally goes up your nose, it can cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). With fever, nausea, seizures, hallucinations and coma, nearly all cases of this illness have been fatal.
Who is consuming this raw water? It’s currently limited to a largely wealthy clientele and seems popular in more expensive neighborhoods. At 60 bucks for 2.5 gallons, this is only something that only the likes of Silicon Valley executives can afford in significant quantities. If you are spending $4000.00 to rent a one-bedroom apartment- what is 60 bucks for a gallon of water? Otherwise, people are left to collect their own.
From the standpoint of a health professional, recommendations would certainly be to avoid drinking untreated water due to concern for water-borne infection, and this applies doubly during pregnancy. We know that the immune system is weaker during pregnancy, and any of the bacteria, viruses or amoebas listed above could easily cause a pretty devastating illness. Not to mention, if you’re spending nearly $30 per gallon of drinking water, how much money are you going to have left over for diapers? 😊