“Raw water” is untreated water, quite simply. Whatever is in that crystal-clear looking spring is what you’d be drinking, if you decide to take a swig — you and that moose just around the bend who also took a drink, peed, and then defecated just upstream from you. That means taking in hydrogen and oxygen, which are the molecules that constitute water. It could also mean taking in giardia, cryptosporidium, schistosomiasis, and any number of other water-born parasites.
Raw water is being promoted as the latest health craze — but only in first world countries like ours where the water supply is safe and people are largely unfamiliar with water-born illnesses. People from developing countries would laugh if you told them drinking untreated water is extra healthy.
Almost everybody in Peace Corps Panama during the years I served got parasites, including me. The parasites weren’t all water-born. Some lived in the muck that was endemic during rainy season, and penetrated the thin skin between your toes. All were nasty and required medical treatment to be eliminated.
I shook my head when I read this article in the Washington Post. The notion that raw water is healthier than treated water, even if the raw stuff comes in a fancy glass bottle and at a premium cost, is simply nuts.