Saturday, December 30, 2017

Water You Waiting For, Dude?

I've noticed that nothing brings the apocalypse prepper right and the hipster dirtbag left together quite like the notion that basic infrastructure services provided by the government are actually an evil conspiracy designed to kill millions. Vaccines, REAL ID drivers' licenses, public education, all suspect because if the government provides them, in 2017 they must be bad.

Now I know some of you guys have been around far longer than I have and know of folks who have been pulling the "Tune in, turn on, drop out" slash "off the grid" thing for decades, it's not exactly new stuff to be counter-culture suspicious of the federal government.  Lord knows over the years they have been up to some awful stuff.

But in the era of Trump that takes on a whole new level of meaning, when FAKE NEWS™ is a thing and science experts are dismissed out of hand by guys who Saw The Real Truth On The Google.

That brings us to an oldie but goodie from the NY Times: fluoridated water conspiracies are the new ground zero in California.

At Rainbow Grocery, a cooperative in this city’s Mission District, one brand of water is so popular that it’s often out of stock. But one recent evening, there was a glittering rack of it: glass orbs containing 2.5 gallons of what is billed as “raw water” — unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water, $36.99 each and $14.99 per refill, bottled and marketed by a small company called Live Water
“It has a vaguely mild sweetness, a nice smooth mouth feel, nothing that overwhelms the flavor profile,” said Kevin Freeman, a shift manager at the store. “Bottled water’s controversial. We’ve curtailed our water selection. But this is totally outside that whole realm.” 
Here on the West Coast and in other pockets around the country, many people are looking to get off the water grid. 
Start-ups like Live Water in Oregon and Tourmaline Spring in Maine have emerged in the last few years to deliver untreated water on demand. An Arizona company, Zero Mass Water, which installs systems allowing people to collect water directly from the atmosphere around their homes, began taking orders in November from across the United States. It has raised $24 million in venture capital.

What do you get when you cross alt-right conspiracies with granola anti-vaxxers and add a healthy dose of Silicon Valley startup culture?

The "raw water" movement, now coming to disrupt the water market near you!

The founder of Live Water, Mukhande Singh, started selling spring water from Opal Springs in Culver, Ore., three years ago, but it was a small local operation until this year. Marketing materials show Mr. Singh (né Christopher Sanborn) sitting naked and cross-legged on a hot spring, his long brown hair flowing over his chest.

Pure water can be obtained by using a reverse osmosis filter, the gold standard of home water treatment, but for Mr. Singh, the goal is not pristine water, per se. “You’re going to get 99 percent of the bad stuff out,” he said. “But now you have dead water.” 
He said “real water” should expire after a few months. His does. “It stays most fresh within one lunar cycle of delivery,” he said. “If it sits around too long, it’ll turn green. People don’t even realize that because all their water’s dead, so they never see it turn green.” 
Mr. Singh believes that public water has been poisoned. “Tap water? You’re drinking toilet water with birth control drugs in them,” he said. “Chloramine, and on top of that they’re putting in fluoride. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health.” (There is no scientific evidence that fluoride is a mind-control drug, but plenty to show that it aids dental health.)

And so the door to expensive privatization of your water supply cracks open just a little wider.  There's a lot of money to be made by taking water from a basic right to an expensive commodity, and there's all sorts of forces, from GOP billionaire donors to Silicon Valley disruptors who want in on it.

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