The lure of ‘raw’ water

| 29 Apr 2013 | 01:27

Once you start finding them, you can’t stop looking. I’m talking about natural water springs. Our region is full of them. A spring is a place where water breaks forth and emerges onto the earth’s surface. It may end up in a pool, a lake, a marsh, a stream or a steady flow of water from a hillside. If it’s slow it’s called a “seep.”

There are several very public springs in the area. There’s the Orange Turnpike Spring on that very same road between Monroe and Harriman near the entrance to Indian Hill. The Blooming Grove Spring is on Route 208 near Clove Rd and the Sunoco station. The Raynor Spring is in Warwick at the corner of Brady and Cascade roads. And there’s a very beautiful spring and waterfall off Old Mineral Springs Road on Mineral Springs Road between Central Valley and Cornwall.

Using these springs for drinking water is questionable. Local and county officials say the springs, sometimes called “raw water,” are not routinely tested and there’s really no way to protect them from groundwater runoff, microbes, viruses, or naturally occurring elements like uranium. Nonetheless, there are regulars at these springs who’ve filled up water jugs their whole lives.

But there’s much more to springs than just water for drinking. Maybe because we humans are 90% water when we are born and as adults we are still about 65-70% water. Many traditional societies honored springs by making offerings to them or considering their waters healing to bathe in. Goshen boasts the famed Cheechunk Spring, a mecca for visitors in need of the healing waters since at least the 1800s, when newspapers extolled the “delightful retreat for the invalid, and a pleasure-ground for those in pursuit of recreation.”

On a more practical level, most dairy farms had springs and “spring houses” to cool the milk. Borden Dairy, once in the village of Warwick, used the spring of Spring Street for cooling its milk. That spring is still running today, from the property of St. Anthony’s Hospital under a few Warwick streets. Street names are often the clues to what lies beneath.

So, thirsty or not, hunting natural springs can bring you in touch with history, mystery and the powers of hidden water.

By Daniel Mack

Please comment and share your experiences of spring waters with us. What have you found?, click on Special Spots, then Thin Places.