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Why "Drinking Water" Is Unfit To Drink

By James Donahue

I am old enough to remember the days when we used to drink water right from the faucet and not think anything of it.

I should qualify that. I disliked drinking tap water because the taste and odor of chlorine, dumped into the city water system at the filtration plant was terrible. Some days a gulp of that water was drinking Roman Cleanser straight from the bottle. The strength of the chlorination depended, I suppose, on who was working at the plant or how impure the water pumped from nearby Lake Huron tested.

Looking back on those days I am amazed that we didn’t all die from cancer or some terrible liver disease. The old intake pipe for the city water system was located right next to a large chemical factory that was pumping waste directly into the lake. That was before there was such a thing as the Environmental Protection Agency and state and federal laws making sure plants were protecting our lakes and streams.

Later we moved from town to a farm where we drank water from a hand-dug crock well that was located about ten feet away from an outdoor privy. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that something was radically wrong with that picture. We couldn’t drill a deep well because the water below us was full of salt. Before we moved into the place, my father had the house plumbed and a bathroom installed. The septic system was directed into a field and away from the well. He had the water tested regularly after that and tests showed the water was suitable for human consumption, although I would argue that. It tasted brackish and was hard to choke down.

The water from that well was the worst tasting stuff I have ever swallowed, except for what we drank in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan during my college days. That town, located right over an oil and natural gas pocket, produced water that tasted like crude oil. We discovered that the then newly marketed powered orange drink Tang, invented for the astronauts who were then beginning to explore space, disguised the taste enough that we could drink it without vomiting. Those were the days when I learned to like beer better.

Over the years my wife and I have lived in a lot of places, and we drink from the tap without concern until the day we bought a country home with salt water in the well. That was when our thinking about drinking tap water came to an abrupt halt.

We tried using a water distilling unit at the house. But there were so many minerals as well as the salt mixed in that water the heating unit in the distiller quickly became caked with a lime deposit that was impossible to clean. We scraped and dumped caustic chemicals in it with little success. We soon gave up and started buying our drinking water at the grocery store.

Working as a news reporter I wrote some stories that explored problems with drinking water all over the country, mostly because of industrial and agricultural chemicals getting dumped directly into the ground water. We lived in the heart of a major agricultural area, surrounded by chemical plants.

During my research I realized that the water reservoirs deep under the ground could be affected by bad chemicals seeping from many miles away. Testing of water was getting better by then. We were horrified to learn that traces of some very dangerous stuff were turning up in the water. It tasted good, but contained evil trace elements.

We also learned that water sold over the counter as "drinking" or "spring" water was nothing more than well water that simply tasted good. It wasn’t necessarily good water to drink.

We began drinking distilled water. I knew from our experimentation with distilling water that this was one way to assure that the water we were drinking was pure. The problem is, distilled water is so pure that a lot of the minerals our body needs that we normally get from water are also absent. Consequently, we had to turn to supplements purchased at health food stores to make sure we got these minerals.

Oh what tangled webs we weave.

From a website produced by the Environmental Protection Agency I found the following lists of evil things they are finding in our water these days:

Microbes: E coli and fecal coliform from contamination by human or animal waste; turbidity, giardia lamblia and cryptosporidium. These are bacteria and parasites that give us stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea and just make us sick all over.

Radionuclides: radioactive minerals, radium and radon gas dissolved in groundwater increase the risk of cancer in people who consume this stuff over a period of time.

Inorganic contaminants including arsenic, fluoride (dumped on purpose), lead, asbestos, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, cyanide, mercury, nitrate, nitrite, selenium and thallium. Too much of this stuff can affect our nerves, our brains and can even kill.

Synthetic organic contaminants that include pesticides and herbicides mostly from agricultural use, volatile organic contaminants from nearby industry, disinfectants, disinfection byproducts and a fuel additive called MTBE. The list of these chemicals is long. All of it is poison to both man and beast.

The human race has virtually destroyed its deep reservoirs of clean fresh pure water. The days of lying flat on the ground and enjoying a drink from a flowing spring are over. Do it at your own risk.