Artesian Water: Nature's Filter
Is It Enough?
Grocery store aisles are over-flowing with bottled water options. Gone are the days when the main difference between these options is from which fresh spring the water was drawn. The labels now include descriptors that seem foreign: ionized, hydrogenated, isotonic water, and artesian. Still, someone with a basic science background may be able to use context clues to decipher what hydrogenated or isotonic water means, but when asked about artesian water, that same person would likely come up blank. Unlike its grocery aisle neighbors, artesian water isn’t named for its chemical makeup but instead invokes a historical narrative.
Artesian wells: Not Quite Geysers
The most famous artesian wells are located in Artois, France, which, in the Middle Ages, was the Roman city of Artesium.
Artesian water is a specific type of free-flowing, spring water. The water moves to the surface naturally without the aid of a pump. Although these artesian wells seem to defy gravity, they have not yet proved Newton’s theory incorrect. Instead, the simpler explanation for this gravity-defying artesian well is pressure.
Artesian wells are created when water flows down a land decline into a porous rock substance, such as limestone, sand, or gravel. This by itself wouldn’t force water upwards, but when the porous ground is surrounded by a layer of impenetrable rock the water source experiences significant pressure. This pressure forces the water upwards where it’s released into a well and resembles a geyser (sans steam).
Some of these artesian wells are so strong that they are able to provide water pressure for multi-storied buildings.
There are a number of artesian aquifers throughout the world. In the US, you’ll find artesian wells in Florida and Georgia. In order to create an artesian well, you only have to tap into the source – literally. Drilling companies around the world can easily create artesian wells to gain access to this unique type of spring water.
Ok, but why is it in my grocery store?
Artesian spring water is of interest to your neighborhood hipster because companies that sell artesian bottled water argue that because the water travels at a high pressure through a porous surface, it’s naturally filtered. Furthermore, artesian water companies argue that this process is nature’s way of purifying the water while also providing some beneficial minerals from the soil.
It’s important to note, though, that similar to other water brands that are derived – at least on paper – from a natural geological source, artesian well water does not differ much from most regular well water.
Unfortunately, this means that artesian water is subject to any of the standard contaminants that can be found in any untreated water source – pesticides, bacteria, viruses, lead, chromium 6, arsenic, and more.
Florida and Georgia are great examples. The National Resources Defense Council says these states have some of the least-safe drinking water in the U.S. Based on population, Texas had the most violations in the U.S., followed by Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Georgia. Moreover, the 2017 report found nearly 80,000 violations impacting drinking water systems in every state.
Artesian water still runs the same risk of exposure to many contaminants found in all spring water, well water, tap water, and bottled water. Unfortunately, in this instance, Mother Nature can’t quite keep up with modern technology.
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