Some Metro Vancouver residents insist on drinking ‘raw water’ despite health warnings

Click to play video: 'Health officials warn about ‘raw water’ trend'
Health officials warn about ‘raw water’ trend
WATCH: Health officials are warning people about a new health trend called 'raw water'. Aaron McArthur explains – Jan 16, 2018

There is no shortage of people filling bottles and jugs with water from a puddle at Lynn Headwaters Park in North Vancouver.

Despite posted warning signs, some people come to the park for untreated water, or so-called “raw water.”

One person told Global News his choice to drink untreated water stems “from reading up on how good a spring is, the minerals and everything that’s still alive.”

“I just prefer going with that.”

WATCH: What is ‘raw water’ and why is it potentially dangerous?

Click to play video: 'What is ‘raw water’ and why is it potentially dangerous?'
What is ‘raw water’ and why is it potentially dangerous?

Raw water refers to unfiltered, untreated and unsterilized water that’s collected from a spring or the atmosphere, and proponents believe it’s healthier than tap or bottled water.

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The movement is gaining considerable traction in San Francisco, specifically Silicon Valley, where a 2.5-gallon glass jar from Oregon-based Live Water can run up to US$60.99.

Untreated water can come with a host of potential health risks, including E. coli, Giardia or Cryptosporidium, microscopic parasites that cause diarrhea.

Microbiologist Natalie Prystajecky notes that treated water is one of the biggest advancements in public health in more than 100 years.

“At the turn of the [20th] century, there were lots and lots of cases of typhoid fever and cholera here in Vancouver and across North America. Now we don’t see any typhoid fever or cholera and it can be attributed to the chlorination of our water supplies,” she said.

Metro Vancouver’s water filtration is considered state-of-the-art. The water in the Capilano and Seymour reservoirs is chlorinated and UV-filtered and undergoes rigorous testing.

Darrell Mussatto, mayor of the City of North Vancouver and chair of the Metro Vancouver Utilities Commission, says he can’t understand why so many people are willing to risk their health.

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“This is one of the most stressful parts of my job is telling people drinking tap water here in Metro Vancouver is one of the safest things you can do,” he said. “One of the most unsafe things you can do is drinking water that hasn’t been treated, that comes straight out of the ground.”

— With files from Marilisa Racco

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