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  • Packages of “raw water” — unfiltered, untreated, and un-sterilized spring water — are becoming more popular among the Silicon Valley elite.
  • At the same time, San Francisco has some of the cleanest tap water in the United States.
  • Raw water is expensive. The craze is symptomatic of the area’s wealth disparity.

In the United States, clean drinking water is not usually considered a luxury. Though places like Flint, Michigan and and Jackson, Mississippi have dealt with seriously contaminated water, the greater majority of Americans (around 80%) have access to tap water without major contaminants.

But in Silicon Valley, “raw water” (unfiltered, untreated, and un-sterilized spring water) is flying off the shelves. As The New York Times recently reported, some of the more popular “raw water” startups are marketing their products as a luxury. At Rainbow Grocery, a co-op in the city’s Mission District, a 2.5-gallon, glass orb of untreated Live Water sold for $36.99, and was later marked up to $60.99 after the Times story dropped.

There may be a few reasons why raw water has caught on in the Bay Area.

The first is that the San Francisco area is one of the richest parts of the country. According to a 2017 report, San Francisco boasts the highest rent prices in the US, with the median monthly price for 2-bedroom at $4,780. Plenty of Americans have doubts about the quality of their local tap water (According to a recent survey by the water advocacy brand Bluewater, approximately 200 million Americans said they worry about contaminants in their drinking water.) And while untreated water does not have proven benefits and could cause drinkers to contract things like E. coli and Hepatitis A, some Americans have long sought to get off the get off the water grid. Read More Here