Why you should care

If water is the source and sustenance of all life, then you should care enough to drink the best.

With 780 million people worldwide drawing their water from unsafe sources, resulting in one child dying every 21 seconds from poor sanitation (water-borne diseases, diarrhea, dysentery), and with a record U.S. drought straining water supplies for thirsty agricultural fields and city dwellers alike, it may be time to think of H2O as more than a calorie-free way to slake your thirst between yoga and the gym.

Where it comes from, how we get it, how we use it and how we pay for it are all issues with significant geopolitical implications. Movements are afoot to banish bottled water completely (among the reasons: plastic bottles release man-made estrogen-like compounds into the environment, leading to involuntary gender re-assignment in local fish). So, this might be the time for Mr. Richard Heinichen to make an appearance.

You see, Heinichen harvests rainwater.

Not drawn up through dirt or collected after rolling down a hill but straight from the sky to the bottle.

Based in the appropriately named town of Dripping Springs, Texas, near Austin, Heinichen started a company back in 1994 called Tank Town. Tank Town sells kits that let you capture and filter your own rainwater in something other than an old tire. But since the captured water comes from the sky and is not being drawn up through dirt or down a hill into a reservoir like most of the water we drink, not much filtering is required. Tank Town estimates that its system can gather 550 gallons from every 1,000 square feet of collection surface for every inch of rain. Used wisely, that could be enough to give a small household a steady supply of water and a handhold on self-sufficiency.

So, that’s one solution if you live in a place where there’s enough rain.

For the rest of us, who either live in drought-stricken regions or are free from drought but too lazy to be bothered, there’s Richard’s Happy Water. Heinichen calls it “cloud juice,” and with no chemicals or additives, he claims it’s purer and significantly less hard than most of the water we use to drink, cook and wash our clothes.

Richard’s Happy Water makes so many claims about its superiority that we had to start drinking. On a sunny Tuesday in Austin, OZY asked for a bunch of bottles of Richard’s Happy Water. A few swigs later, what did we discover about cloud juice?

Richard Heinichen on the bottling line

Richard Heinichen on the bottling line

It’s everything the company said it is: light and nicely carbonated, almost sweet. Sky water is remarkably distinct from tap water or distilled water, and tastes different than most other mineralized bottled waters, too. But if you cannot commit to collecting your own rainwater and merely want to purchase it from Tank Town, shipping glass-bottled water at $30 a box starts to sting.

But the more cloud juice we consumed, the more we considered this: It’s not going to kill us to spend a few extra bucks. Indeed, it might even help a bit.

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