What 'Spring Bottled Water' Really Means

It says something about the current consumer market when something as simple as a drink of water still gets drowned under a barrage of marketing terms and glossy advertising. Even if the whole setup feels overwhelming, you don't need to be a water sommelier to understand the basics. Spring bottled water is a category that differentiates itself from purified water, distilled water, etc. because of where the water comes from — namely, a natural spring.

The most straightforward method to cash in on the rising demand for spring bottled water would be to find an underground aquifer with drinkable water, locate the spring on the surface where that water escapes, and put that water into a bottle which you then sell to someone else. There are other ways a company can extract the water from the aquifer if the spring isn't fast enough or there's some other reason that makes the process unfeasible, such as creating a borehole, but the water must be in the same condition as it would be if it had been sourced naturally. The main problem with speeding up the process is that companies may deplete the aquifer faster than it naturally replenishes itself, eventually resulting in the loss of the aquifer altogether. Of course, it makes more economic sense not to destroy your income-generating groundspring so not all spring bottled water is this exploitative.

Why choose spring water?

Apart from the marketing appeal of being able to call your water natural, there are good reasons to choose spring bottled water over other types. As a refresher on your high school science class, an aquifer is a large body of water underground replenished by rain and other precipitation. The rain hits the surface and slowly seeps into the soil, which works as a natural filtration system while still leaving healthy minerals that benefit you. Whether the health benefits of natural filtration are offset by the microplastics the bottle is shedding into your water is something you'll need to decide for yourself.

In years gone by, when people discovered an aquifer they would build a well and draw the water up that way. Now, companies bottle it up and ship it globally. One of the most successful spring water companies is Fiji Water which sources all of its water from an aquifer on the island of Viti Levu. Not all spring water companies operate above board, though. In the past few years, several lawsuits have been brought against spring water companies alleging that they're fraudulently misusing the label (among other charges). Almost nobody wants to do homework about something as dull as water but it's an important part of your health. If you're going to make the financial decision to start paying for bottled water instead of drinking tap, you might as well spend a little time identifying sources that you trust.