In the opening scene of Ice Age: The Meltdown, Scrat, the acorn-obsessed saber-toothed squirrel, is hanging off the edge of a glacier where his acorn has become lodged. When he finally wedges it out, a stream of water springs from the hole. He plugs the leak with his paw, but another springs, followed by another and another until he runs out of body parts to plug the leaks with and is blown from the side of the glacier.
That’s what writing about water is like. Every time you think you’ve done it—plugged the leak and contained the tsunami—another leak, or, in this case, lead, sprouts. There’s e. Coli in the lake. Great. On top of it. But, oh wait, it also has blue green algae and zebra mussels, and there are invasive water chestnuts in the creek that connects the lake to the river. There’s the water crisis in Africa, in California and in the Colorado River basin, and then there’s the drinking water crises in Flint, MI and Newark, NJ. There’s saltwater and fresh water, glacial water and rainwater and, in Saratoga Springs, there’s mineral water.
In writing about all the waters of Saratoga, and actually, in writing about Saratoga in general, mineral waters come first. As Dr. Grace M. Swanner writes in her Saratoga Queen Of Spas (the book Saratoga Room Library Clerk Victoria Garlanda referred to as “The Bible” when she handed it to me), “It can realistically be said that the waters are the veritable ‘raison d’être’ of Saratoga Springs.” And so, in my quest to write as comprehensive a story on Saratoga water as possible, mineral water is where I’ll dive in first.
First, a quick and (somewhat) dirty history: The Saratoga region was originally a prime hunting ground for the Mohawk Indian tribe, whose members believed the waters that bubbled from the ground were a gift from the god Manitou. European settlers came in in the early 1700s, claimed the land and began developing it. In the 1800s, Saratoga was a destination for the rich and famous, who came to “take the waters” (drink from the mineral springs), but by the end of the century, private industry had begun extracting carbonic acid gas from the springs for use in soda, which was detrimental to the natural flow of the springs. The State of New York stepped in in the early 1900s, passing anti-pumping legislation, but not before many of the springs had been permanently damaged. Shortly after, in 1909, the State Reservation at Saratoga Springs was formed, which put the future of the springs solely in the state’s hands, followed by the creation of the “New Spa,” a European-style health center that became the first major project finished under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, in 1935. The Saratoga Spa saw its finest hour between then and 1950, after which its funding was gradually cut, and it was transformed into the Saratoga Spa State Park we know today.
I made several trips to the Spa State Park this past summer, the first of which was to explore the benefits of soaking in Saratoga’s mineral waters by way of a spa day—solely for research purposes, of course. Established in 1935, Roosevelt Baths & Spa is the last remaining historical bathhouse in Saratoga Springs, and bathing in the carbonated waters of the Lincoln Spring—just as guests did back in the days of the Saratoga Spa—is its signature treatment. Benefits of such mineral baths, Spa Director Jared Taisey tells me, are believed to include therapeutic effects on skin conditions such as psoriasis, increased blood circulation and cell oxygenation, stimulation of the immune system, production of endorphins, normalized gland function and promotion of feelings of physical and psychological well-being. “Of course, everything is a belief—we can’t say for certain,” Taisey says.
That got me thinking: How do we not know for certain? Hasn’t there been some study that definitively proves (or, gasp!, disproves) bathing in mineral waters has medicinal value? It turns out, there hasn’t. Academic study after academic study I reviewed all said some version of the same thing: There was “insufficient evidence” to support the fact that balneotherapy (the treatment of disease by bathing in mineral springs) was effective. In reading these studies, I came across the name Arianne Verhagen quite a bit, and decided to reach out to her to see what the deal was. “I do not think that, at the moment, the scientific world is able to state that balneotherapy is or is not effective,” says Verhagen, professor and head of the discipline of physiotherapy at University of Technology Sydney and whose research delves into the effect of balneotherapy on physiological impairments. “There are just not enough studies done of a certain size and quality to be able to draw these kinds of conclusions. I’m not sure why these studies are not performed, but I assume it’s a money problem, as these studies cost a lot of money, and probably researchers cannot find the funding for them.”
So, without scientific evidence to back the legitimacy of balneotherapy, we’re left with anecdotal evidence, which, it turns out, is in high supply. For starters, you can’t ignore more than four centuries of Saratogians and visitors to the Spa City who believe in the water’s healing qualities. One high-profile example is Zac Brown Band bassist Matt Mangano, who told saratoga living that running mineral water over his dislocated finger made it feel good enough to play a show at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) that same night. Then there are the people who can speak to the increased feelings of psychological wellbeing: “We hear from a lot of our guests that after they have a mineral bath, they didn’t care that their cell phone was going off, or they shut it off because it was going off,” Taisey says. “Like, the world’s gonna survive for the couple hours that they’re spending here at the spa.”
That psychological wellbeing is key. “Given the right environment and the psychological assurance that health will be restored, the salutary physiological effect of the waters and minerals necessary for rebuilding body tissues will accomplish wonders,” Dr. Swanner writes. “This concept is basic to spa therapy. The mineral waters are not necessarily specific for any given disease. They contribute to the basic welfare of the person by improving the general health and thereby aiding nature in the natural healing process.” The other explanation for why people who came to the Saratoga Spa felt—and were, according to many studies conducted in the era—healed, is that “spa therapy” also included a regiment of exercise, healthy diet, rest and recreation.
So, while I can’t say I felt healed in any specific way by my mineral bath at Roosevelt (being in my 20s, I don’t have too many ailments in need of healing), it’s hard to imagine my relaxing soak, when paired with a healthy diet and exercise, would do me any harm. If anything, for the remainder of the day I went to the spa, I felt like I was still floating in that one-of-a-kind, effervescent water.
But bathing in mineral waters is only half of the equation; from Victorian Era tourists who came here to “take the waters,” to those who, while at the Saratoga Spa, drank from the Hathorn, Coesa and Geyser springs, which were piped into the Hall of Springs, Saratogians and visitors alike have been drinking from the “health-giving” mineral springs that dot Saratoga Springs for hundreds of years. So, I figured I’d see what all the fuss was about.
Upon my arrival at the notoriously delicious State Seal Spring across from the Saratoga Automobile Museum, I filled my Nalgene and, too nervous to sip it in front of all the people standing around filling their five-gallon jugs, made like I was leaving. But that’s when I met Willow, a pup whose owner, 15-year Gansevoort resident David Dinallo, looked like a regular around those parts. “It’s the best water I’ve ever had,” Dinallo said about the State Seal. “I consider Fiji the benchmark of water, and this is right up there. The thing is, this water is free and Fiji costs $39 at BJ’s.” (Ironically, and devastatingly, I found out later, Fiji, home of the trendy Fiji bottled water brand Dinallo mentioned, is actually one of the worst-off countries in the world when it comes to water access—but more on that later.) “Twenty years ago, who would’ve ever bought water in bottles at the store?” he asked. “Now, most people won’t drink water out of the tap. But water from bottles isn’t much better, I hear.” Willow likes the State Seal water too: Several times, Dinallo put two bowls of water on the ground, one filled from the tap and one filled with State Seal water, and eight times out of ten, Willow drank from the State Seal bowl.
I broke the news to Dinallo that I’m a water-from-the-ground newb, and of course, he wanted me to try it, right then and there. But by then I’d realized people were waiting for a spigot and not getting water from the one I filled my bottle with. That’s because the one I chose was actually churning out good old-fashioned mineral water from the Geyser Spring. (The words “mineral water” are actually engraved in the concrete above the spigot—not sure how I missed that.) But Dinallo insisted I try that too. “It tastes like blood,” an onlooker warned. I swished it around in my mouth and spit it out. It tasted like blood.
The blood taste comes from iron in the water, I learned later. But not all the springs taste like that. That’s because, while all the mineral springs contain the same minerals—such as potassium, calcium and magnesium and, yes, iron—and are therefore believed to be from the same source (though that source is not officially known, Saratoga Spa State Park Manager David Guest tells me), they have varying concentrations of those minerals. Historically, the health benefits of the springs were also thought to vary. Congress Spring in Congress Park, for example, is categorized as cathartic and was thought to benefit dyspepsia, gout and skin ailments.
I ask Dr. Judy Halstead, a professor of chemistry at Skidmore College, her thoughts on the medicinal value of Saratoga’s mineral waters. “No, they’re not medicinal!” she flatly tells me. “No, no, no, no!” She explains: “When we say mineral, it means it’s got calcium and magnesium in it. It’s also gonna have a lot of sodium in it. So, anyone who’s concerned about their sodium consumption—you certainly don’t want to be taking mineral water. They’re also radioactive. Not to the point where they would be dangerous, but I can’t imagine any reasonable argument to just decide to consume a bunch of minerals, a bunch of salt and a little bit of radioactivity. That’s crazy.” Halstead ventures that perhaps tourists in the Victorian Era saw improvements in their health when they came to Saratoga not necessarily because of the mineral springs, but because of the regular drinking water. “Our surface water may have been somewhat cleaner long, long ago than if you were living in New York City or Philadelphia, where it’s easy to see that surface water would’ve been heavily polluted.”
There are some springs, though, that don’t have as much salt, radioactivity, calcium or magnesium, or at least not in as high quantities, and are therefore not classified as “mineral.” One is the State Seal (which actually spews sand-filtered rain water) and another is the Sweet Water Spring, which, located across Route 50 from State Seal and the rest of Spa State Park, is the main source for Saratoga Spring Water, the company behind those blue glass bottles you see everywhere around town. (Pristine Mountain Springs in Stockbridge, VT, which has very similar characteristics as Sweet Water Spring, is the other source.) The identity of Saratoga Springs is undoubtedly tied to Saratoga Spring Water. Besides the obvious name-related similarities, Saratoga Spring Water is the last remaining bottler of Saratoga’s spring waters, having been in operation since 1872. Its iconic blue bottles have also, in a way, become synonymous with Saratoga—not only are they sold in 30 states and 5 countries, which puts Saratoga on the map as a “water” destination even after the closing of the Saratoga Spa, but Saratoga Spring Water souvenirs are a signature item in shops up and down Broadway (I’m the proud owner of a candle holder made out of half a Saratoga Spring Water bottle). “I think right now we have a symbiotic relationship with Saratoga where people might have a nostalgic view of their visit to Saratoga,” says Saratoga Spring Water President Adam “AC” Madkour. “They see our bottle on the shelves, and it brings them back to that time they were here. We’re getting the name Saratoga out across the country and around the world, and then, at the same time, those people who have all those great memories of visiting this area can have a little piece of that when they see our bottle.”
OK, time for a water break. Have you already had your two liters for the day?
With the storied history of Saratoga’s spring waters, and the national and international attention its premier bottled water brand has garnered, it makes sense to assume its drinking water supply is equally noteworthy. Rumors even swirl in Manhattan that New York City’s water is as good as it is—and makes the city’s pizza dough and bagels as good as they are—because it gets water from Saratoga Springs. (The tasty NYC tap water actually comes from a watershed in the Catskill Mountains, which have very little limestone rock and therefore don’t taint the water with bitter-tasting calcium.) But in reality, Saratoga’s spring waters are a completely separate entity from its drinking water. Whereas the mineral springs arise from waters trapped in layers of impenetrable rock deep below the earth’s surface and rise along fault lines, Saratoga’s main municipal water source is Loughberry Lake, a shallow reservoir next to Route 50 between Saratoga and Wilton. The city also uses ground water from the Geyser Crest system, as well as from Bog Meadow Brook and three Bog Meadow ground water wells during the summer months when water is in higher demand.
Drinking water is obviously a hot topic right now, given the crisis in Flint, MI and now Newark, NJ relating to lead in drinking water, as well as the water insecurity seen around the world from Africa to California and Fiji, where 53 percent of people don’t have access to safe drinking water. (It’s literally easier to get water from Fiji in any city in America than it is in Fiji itself.) “Flint has brought water to the forefront,” says Brett Johnson, chief water plant operator for the City of Saratoga Springs. “People are more educated because it’s been in the news. They’re worried their kids might get lead poisoning.”
But Saratogians have nothing to worry about. Whereas contaminants such as chloride, nitrogen and mercury may be present in source water (i.e. Loughberry Lake) as a result of runoff from fertilizers, road salt or factory waste, and can therefore be treated at the plant, lead, which when ingested, severely affects mental and physical development, typically gets into drinking water after it leaves the treatment plant in the pipes that bring it to people’s homes. While most of the pipes transporting water under the City of Saratoga aren’t made of lead, there are a few, and in a routine water test in June 2017, lead levels were found to exceed the legal limit in 7 out of 60 homes in the city. As a result, the Department of Public Works worked with the New York State Department of Health and an engineering firm to test and subsequently introduce orthophosphate, a substance that prevents lead from leaching from pipes into water. (In Flint and Newark, many more homes are serviced by lead pipes, and both cities misused, or failed to use, corrosion inhibitors such as orthophosphate to prevent leaching.) Subsequent tests in November 2017, May 2018 and November 2018 in Saratoga found that lead had fallen below the maximum contaminant level.
Water scarcity is another issue—actually, one of the biggest issues—that communities around the world face today. While about 70 percent of Earth is covered in water, only about 2.5 percent of that is fresh water. (Saratoga isn’t coastal, so, thankfully, I’ll be leaving the discussion of ocean pollution, coral reef depletion, water levels rising, etc. to some other lucky reporter.) Even then, only one percent of Earth’s fresh water is easily accessible—most of it is trapped in glaciers (another topic I won’t be touching on, aside from in that Ice Age metaphor in the intro) and snowfields. According to the United Nations, in 2015 three in ten people didn’t have access to safe drinking water, including some in California, which was in the midst of a seven-year drought. (It turns out, the water shortage in California had less to do with the drought than it did with rich agriculture corporations hogging all the available ground water, but again, I’ll abstain from getting into that.) By 2025, the World Health Organization estimates that half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. That’s in five years.
While Saratoga hasn’t had any real issues with water scarcity in the past, the city is safeguarding against future problems. On a tour of the Saratoga water treatment plant (which has been in operation since 1935, the same year the Saratoga Spa and Roosevelt Baths & Spa were completed), Johnson pointed out a 1.5 megawatt generator that was installed in 2015 and is capable of running the facility at full capacity, as well as a gauge monitoring the water level of a 5 million-gallon storage tank located behind Skidmore College (it’s almost full, FYI). He also told me the city has a bid out for a study of Loughberry Lake that will determine the long-term viability of its water quality and safe yield, or in other words, if it will continue to be a reliable water source for the city in the coming years.
While Loughberry Lake just so happens to be Saratoga’s drinking water source, it’s first and foremost a lake. And as a lake, it’s susceptible to the same threats as Saratoga’s other surface waters—threats such as invasive species, contamination and eutrophication (when a body of water becomes overly enriched with nutrients).
Let’s break that down. Invasive species, ones that are not originally from the area and cause environmental and/or economic damage, are a pretty straightforward problem. Zebra mussels and water chestnuts are the two main culprits in Saratoga County: The mussels compete with native fish for food and clog industrial water pipes, and the chestnuts develop into thick mats that block sunlight from native species and hinder activities such as swimming, boating and kayaking.
The obvious example of contamination of waters in the area would be when General Electric dumped around 1.3 million pounds of Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River in Hudson Falls, NY and Fort Edward, NY between 1947 and 1977. The now-banned substance had unintended impacts on human and environmental health, and can now be found in water, sediment, wildlife and people as far south as the New York Harbor. Road salt is another contaminant, which affects aquatic life and decreases water clarity, as is E. coli, which gets into water by way of animal feces or untreated sewage. This August, Brown’s Beach on Saratoga Lake was closed due to E. coli contamination from what was thought to be geese droppings from a flock that passed over the beach.
Besides E. coli, feces also contain nutrients, which, when they enter bodies of water, speed up eutrophication. “Natural eutrophication is the process by which a brand-new, pristine, geologically pure, young lake gradually and naturally becomes a swamp and then land,” Halstead tells me. “That’s a natural process. But when we add certain things, particularly nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, to a body of water, that can accelerate it dramatically.” It happens like this: Nutrients, such as sewage or fertilizers, get into a water body by way of rainwater runoff and feed algae, creating algal blooms, which block sunlight causing plants to die. Then, bacteria digest the dead plants, using up oxygen in the process, and fish die, because they can’t survive without oxygen. It goes without saying that the recent repeal of a major Obama-era clean water regulation that put limits on the use of polluting chemicals, such as fertilizers, near bodies of water, is not good news for the health of surface water.
Obviously, invasive species, contaminants and eutrophication are important to the health of lakes and streams that aren’t a source of drinking water: When lakes are contaminated, their water can make people or animals sick and negatively impact tourism. But drinking water is still a chief concern. As of now, none of these issues pose a threat great enough that the Saratoga Springs water treatment plant can’t handle. When I was there, Johnson showed me all kinds of charts and meters that are constantly monitoring the levels of coliform, turbidity, inorganic compounds, nitrate, nitrite, lead, copper, volatile organic compounds and many more things I can’t even pronounce, in the city’s water. And still, some residents don’t trust it. “You know how old the pipes are…they’re not too hot,” says Saratoga Springs resident Justin Metzger. “Some of them are still wood if I’m not mistaken.” (Johnson told me this is “highly unlikely.”) Nick LaRose is another city resident who refuses to drink water from the tap (and who also happens to be my boyfriend). “You don’t know what they’re putting in it,” he says. “Fluoride? Fluoride’s not good for you. That Flint water crisis? The people were just drinking the water. And it had more lead in it than a Ticonderoga pencil factory.” (While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers water fluoridation as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century because of its contribution to the decline in the public’s tooth decay, the relationship between fluoridated water and cancer has been debated for years. And Ticonderoga uses graphite in its pencils, not lead.)
State Seal water, though, LaRose says, he’d drink. “That’s what people did for thousands of years,” he says. “They didn’t put chemicals in the water in ancient Rome.” (The average life expectancy in ancient Rome was 25.) Dr. Halstead is not of the same mindset. She tells me she came across a blog post by a woman who said she saw someone letting their dog lick the spigot at the State Seal Spring. “How do you know what anybody’s been doing there?” Halstead says. “Honestly, really, I’m happy the parks and recreation people test it. I think I found a Post Star article that said they test it quarterly. Well that’s every three months. But really, do you want to drink water that’s been tested for bacteria every single solitary day and is filtered and disinfected”—as Saratoga city water is—“or do you want to be drinking your water from someplace a dog could’ve just been licking the faucet?” (In addition to the quarterly tests mentioned in the 2010 Post Star article Halstead was referring to, Guest tells me “The mineral spring water is collected and taken to an outside lab for analysis monthly.”)
But tap water doesn’t taste good, some people will say (not me—I have no problem gulping down Saratoga city water). Well, there are a couple of options. For one, you can buy a filter, such as a Brita, which a lot of Saratoga residents I talked with have. The issue there, Halstead says, is you’re putting extra responsibility on yourself that you were previously trusting the water plant with to change the filter frequently enough so that bacteria doesn’t grow in it. The other option is to just put a pitcher of your tap water in the fridge for a while before drinking it. “If you give it 12 hours or something, most people, even if they don’t like the taste of the local water, will find it to be more agreeable the next day,” she says.
Dr. Halstead, ever the tap water champion (though she does admit things can get sloppy, as they did in Flint), goes on to tell me that while tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and State of New York, bottled water is regulated as a food by the Food and Drug Administration, and has minimal testing requirements. “Bottled water is something like 1000 times more expensive than tap water,” she continues. (It’s actually 3785 times more.) “You can get organics leaching out of the plastic bottle, the contribution to global climate change, the pollution from having to get rid of the bottles, the environmental impact of transporting those bottles, you’re making the plastic bottles…it’s just ridiculous.” Madkour and Saratoga Spring Water recognize these environmental issues and are working to combat them. “We realize what industry we’re in, and by focusing our business on glass containers, we believe that that is a more sustainable option. They have better recyclability, better durability and in conjunction with that, we offset all of our power usage with wind power so that we can be a carbon neutral operation.”
The very first person I talked to when I started my water investigation was Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO of SPAC. Not the most obvious choice, I know. But I knew she was passionate about water—mineral and drinking—as evidenced by her bringing a three-part series of talks on water to SPAC this past summer. (I made it to the third installment of the series, a talk by Charles Fishman, author of The Big Thirst: The Secret Life And Turbulent Future Of Water, at the very end of my months-long water exploration, and, as expected, it sprouted countless more glacial leaks/leads, from wastewater and gray water, to the innovative ways water scarcity issues are being solved around the world.) “People hear me talk about it all the time: I look at SPAC as the perfect confluence of manmade beauty and natural beauty,” Sobol says. “There are certainly many other summer festivals that are located in beautiful locations—Tanglewood is the obvious example. But no other summer music festival of this magnitude is so specifically located in a park that was created around the presence of healing waters.”
Sobol is helping to further highlight the presence of the springs in the Spa State Park with the renovation of the long-vacant Roosevelt II bathhouse. “Coesa [a wellness retreat center] will go in there, we’ll have a gallery space and a black box theater space and teaching kitchen and workshop and classroom space,” she says. “We’re essentially going to be breathing new life and purpose into a building that was originally built to take advantage of the waters and their healing properties.”
Sobol also talked about The Jefferson Project, a partnership between the FUND for Lake George, IBM and Rensselaer Polytech Institute (RPI) that is the world’s most advanced environmental monitoring system. The project’s goal is to identify, understand and respond to ecological stressors (which are often human caused), such as road salt, invasive species and excess nutrients (or eutrophication), in order to create a global model for ecosystem resilience. “I think it’s incredible that all these people and organizations are getting together, seeing the responsibility they have to help create templates for the future and for other people who are trying to stave off the same problem,” Sobol says.
I knew from previous interviews Sobol has done with saratoga living that when she moved here from Miami Beach to take over SPAC in 2016, she was at least, in part, swayed to come by the natural beauty of the area, so I asked her about it. “That fateful, cool, June evening when I came up here for the first time, I walked by Congress Park and the beauty of the fountain and the springs…the water there was just so riveting and beautiful and seeing the springs there made me curious. I suppose Congress Park, and the water in it, was the first thing about Saratoga Springs that really, totally arrested my attention.”
In my effort to wrap my head around water—it’s just two hydrogens and an oxygen, after all—I asked Sobol where, in her opinion, the topic of Saratoga’s mineral water meets drinking water meets surface water. “At the end of the day, if we’re not working together and we’re not acknowledging the interconnectedness of our own lives and water and how we’re connected to the earth, then it’s not a pretty future,” she says. “I think it’s that interconnectedness piece that, for me, makes it all not just interesting and fascinating, but also critical and urgent.” It seems like some special sort of destiny that, when Saratoga’s springs attracted the environmental, artistic, civic force that is Elizabeth Sobol to our little city, we had no idea that in addition to transforming SPAC, she’d be one of the most dominant voices advocating to save—and celebrate—our water.
Saratoga Water: The Numbers
13 The number of springs in the Saratoga Spa State Park
250 The minimum number, in parts per million, of dissolved solids such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium that must be present in water for it to be considered mineral water
750,000 The amount, in dollars, the new Lincoln Bath House cost to build (it opened in 1930)
92 The percentage of patients with arthritis and related conditions who showed definite improvement after taking part in a special treatment program which included the use of naturally carbonated mineral waters in the form of baths and other forms of spa therapy during a study at the Veterans Hospital at Saratoga Springs from 1943-1947
107,299 The number of treatments given at the Lincoln and Washington bath houses in 1927
15,000-20,000 The approximate number of mineral baths given at Roosevelt Baths & Spa per year in recent years
2690 The amount of sodium, in milligrams per liter of water, in water from the Hathorn #3 Spring in the Spa State Park
2300 The recommended maximum daily intake of sodium, in milligrams
147 The number of years Saratoga Spring Water has been in business
30 The number of states Saratoga Spring Water is sold in
5 The number of countries Saratoga Spring Water is sold in
28,000 The approximate number of people the Saratoga Springs water system serves
1,530,219,000 The total amount of water, in gallons, produced in Saratoga Springs in 2018
7,066,000The amount of water, in gallons, consumed in Saratoga Springs on July 2, 2018 (the year’s highest single-day consumption)
1.72 The approximate amount, in dollars, Saratoga residents paid per 1000 gallons of water in 2018
31 The percent water bills in the US have surged since 2012 (vastly outpacing US inflation)
15 The “action level” of lead, in parts per billion (the maximum concentration of lead allowed in drinking water before the system must take action to control corrosion in pipes)
13,000 The highest level of lead, in parts per billion, found in Flint, MI during its water crisis
0.007 The percentage of the planet’s water that’s available for human use and consumption
30 The percentage of people worldwide who didn’t have access to safe drinking water in 2015
50 The estimated percentage of people worldwide who will be living in water-stressed areas by the year 2025
5000 The number of children who die each day from lack of water or diseases they got from tainted drinking water
9.6 The amount, in millions of dollars, the states of New York and Vermont have spent on controlling invasive water chestnuts over the last 29 years
1.3 The amount, in millions of pounds, of Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that General Electric dumped into the Hudson River between 1947 and 1977
33 The percentage of students who correctly identified a tap water sample from Vermont Pure bottled water in a 2011 study
100 The number of times more air and water pollution created by making a 16-ounce water bottle from plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) than are created by making it out of glass
3785 The number of times more expensive single-serve plastic water bottles are than tap water when priced by the gallon (some bottling companies, such as Dasani, actually draw on municipal water supplies)
1.63 The number of liters of water Coca-Cola bottling plants, which produce Dasani, use for every 1 liter of beverage produced
2 The number, in billions, of plastic water bottles purchased by Americans each week (that’s 6 bottles per person per week)
2 The amount of water, in tablespoons, used to complete one Google search (with 4 million searches conducted a minute, Google uses 45 million gallons of water a day)
4.9 The number of gallons of water it takes to grow one walnut
18.5 The amount of clean water, in gallons, flushed down the toilet by each American every day
250 The amount of gallons of water it takes to provide electricity for one American each day (that’s 2.5 times more water than the average American actually uses in the kitchen and bathroom each day)
1 The amount of Poland Spring and Dasani bottled water, in millions of gallons, Americans drink every hour
73 The minimum number of terabytes of data generated by Jefferson Project computer models each year
51 The number of Jefferson Project sensor platforms in or around Lake George
11 The number of gallons of water present in a 150-pound man’s body (that’s 90 pounds worth!)