While the U.S. has one of the safest public drinking water supplies in the world, concerns over lead and other contaminants have led some to seek alternatives to tap water. As a result, drinking unprocessed water, also referred to as raw or live water, has become a trend.
Raw water often comes directly from springs or streams and is not treated as tap water is. Proponents of raw water say it contains beneficial bacteria and natural minerals.
However, public health experts warn that water from springs, streams and rivers can contain disease-causing bacteria, as well as viruses and parasites. Diarrhea is the most common illness linked to contaminated water and causes more than 500,000 deaths globally each year.
Infants, young children, pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of illness from contaminated water. For these individuals, treated water is a safer choice.
If you are concerned about the safety of your local water, you can request a water report, called a Consumer Confidence Report, from your local water utility. This report lists the levels of contaminants that have been detected in the water and whether the system meets federal and local safety standards.