The Word on Water Filters

Everything you need to know about water filters, purifiers, bottled water and more.

| May/June 1999

We begin in water, virtual sea creatures, immersed and weightless in our private pools.

Later, some theorize, even when landlocked we remain tethered to the oceans’ rhythms, our bodies responding to the tide’s insistent pull.

Awash with mysterious associations across ­centuries and continents, water comprises a primordial union of hydrogen and oxygen. In an endless natural alchemy, it retains its integrity as it cycles through states: liquid, solid, gas. A circle of wholeness encapsulates this shape-shifting genie through river, ocean, cloud, fog, raindrop, snowflake, ice. Light, shining through water, paints rainbows across the sky. Water, omni­present, gushes from the earth’s fiery center, pelts from the heavens above, collects from thin air in dewy drops, or trickles, docile, from a bathroom tap.

The Chinese ascribe to water the feminine characteristics of yin; in feng shui water is associated with tranquility and power. In ancient theories of healing, water corresponded to winter, the brain, the color white. In the Aztec calendar it was a sign of bad luck, a component in their hieroglyph for war. Water has served as home to sea monsters and mermaids, dunking pond for suspected witches, font of baptisms and ritual baths. In psychology it remains a fundamental symbol for the energy of the unconscious. Still waters, indeed, run deep.

Water pours through the annals of human ­history, lapping at the very foundations of civilization. From the stone precision of Roman aqueducts and Incan fountains to the massive optimism of the Hoover Dam, channeling the precious fluid allows us to chart a future course, wedding water to utility and commerce: agriculture, hydroelectricity, transportation, manufacturing—even the mundane miracle of indoor plumbing.

Yet the lesson of balance is locked into every drop. If water is life-giving, life-nurturing—life itself—its wrath is biblical. The scales tipped spell oblit­eration, by flood, or its antithesis, drought. Cleansing and purification give way in an instant to submersion and destruction. The siren’s song is sweet—and deadly.

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