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'Raw water' is dirty water, experts say

It sounds bizarre: People paying more than $60 for three gallons of water; but that's exactly what is happening in the latest Silicon Valley craze of 'raw water.'

Proponents of raw water (also called live water) say water gathered from a natural spring is a health elixir, full of probiotics, minerals, natural microbes, and other elements.

Dirity WaterOpponents say among those elements are animal feces, chemical runoff, and bacteria that bring diseases like cholera and typhoid.  In short: dirty water.

Contaminated drinking water has been virtually unknown in North America ever since governments began treating water in the early 1900s. Water treatment dramatically reduced death from disease, a success so profound that people no longer remember the dangers of untreated water.

Cholera is one danger. Caused by a bacteria that can be present in water and food, cholera can have rapid onset, just four to six hours, or delayed onset of up to five days. Vomiting and profuse diarrhea render the victim dehydrated. It can kill within days or even hours.

Water treatment plants easily take care of cholera bacteria and other contaminants. However, the bacteria does exist in the environment. In 2010, an earthquake disrupted Haiti's water treatment plants. Although there had not been an incidence of cholera in 50 years, the disease rapidly took hold in an epidemic that lasted seven years, killed more than 9,000 people, and infected more than 700,000.

According to the New York Times, the raw water movement brings together unlikely allies from health and nature enthusiasts to government conspiracy theorists.  The extreme health fans say they want the natural benefits of untreated water. The conspiracy theorists don't like fluoride.

Food safety expert Bill Marler told Business Insider that the attitudes are both unscientific. "Almost everything conceivable that can make you sick can be found in water," Marler said. He said treated water has brought health to Western countries that under-developed countries can only dream about.