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What is Artesian Water?

By: Craig Smith
Last Updated:

As much as I know about water and how to filter it from my 26-years in the swimming pool and hot tub industry, one type of water that I knew very little about was artesian water.

It’s one of the reasons that I enjoyed writing this article. 

In it, you will learn what artesian water is, how the wells it comes from are formed, and some other useful information that relates to this unique form of naturally purified water.  

When you are finished reading it, you will have a better understanding of what is Artesian water and why it’s so popular for many to drink.

What is Artesian Water?

Artesian water is not that much different from the typical water that you would find in a well. 

Each has been naturally filtered as they make their way through the different rock and mineral layers that lie underground.

What separates artesian water from normal well water is the type of aquifer it’s contained in.

Well water exists in what’s known as an uncontained aquifer. This is different from artesian water because it resides in what are called contained aquifers.

Contained aquifers tend to be further underground than uncontained ones and that tends to produce some very high quality, naturally purified water. Artesian water also resides in contained aquifers that have pressure built up in them.

A little bit later I will talk about the role that this plays in obtaining artesian water.

There is also some misconception with consumers that the artesian water that they enjoy so much is enhanced or finely filtered in some way. Don’t be fooled here because this most certainly is not the case.

Part of the allure for many with Artesian water is that it’s packaged in the same state that it comes up from the ground. I will say that it is the purest form of water that Mother Nature has to offer.

Make no mistake either for the type of demand that’s associated with bottled Artesian water. One of the most popular brands, Fiji, has sales that are estimated to be worth around $150 million per year.

Although that’s a small percentage of the bottled water market, that makes this sales figure no less impressive.

Where Does Artesian Water Come From?

As you are probably aware, many different layers make up the ground beneath us and these layers consist of different types of rocks, soils, sands, and minerals. Underneath the surface of the earth, there are also areas where water gets trapped called aquifers.

I mentioned above that water below the earth’s surface can be trapped in either contained or uncontained aquifers.    

According to the government body in the Tasmanian Region of Australia, “Where groundwater is in direct contact with the atmosphere through the open pore spaces of the overlying soil or rock, then the aquifer is said to be unconfined”. 

This same reference goes on to say, “Confined aquifers are permeable rock units that are usually deeper under the ground than unconfined aquifers. They are overlain by relatively impermeable rock or clay that limits groundwater movement into, or out of, the confined aquifer.” 

Sometimes the water in contained aquifers is also under pressure. Which is a key trait of true artesian water. So for water to be considered to be true artesian water, it must be sourced from a deep-contained aquifer where the water inside of it is under pressure.

These wells get their name from where this type of water first became famous in the ‘Artois’ region of Northern France, but artesian wells are not exclusively found in this area of the world. 

Many aquifers containing artesian water are located all over the earth.

How Are Artesian Wells Formed?

Don’t think I am being cynical here but artesian water comes from what are known as artesian wells. Although artesian wells are usually drilled at much deeper depths than ordinary wells, the depth alone does not make a well an artesian well. This is a very common misconception.  

To be a true artesian well, a well must not only be drilled deep into the ground but its source water must come from a contained aquifer where the water is naturally under pressure.

The deepest well in the world cannot be considered an artesian well unless the water it taps into has this pressurized characteristic.

The way artesian wells are formed is not any different than ordinary wells but these wells source their water from an underground aquifer that was formed as a result of some very specific natural occurrences.

Most notably these conditions include water originating on the surface in an area of the ground where it can then continue down through more porous rock layers such as those consisting of limestone and gravel.

Eventually, this water will no longer be able to travel down further as it encounters an impenetrable rock layer.   

These non-porous rock layers also contribute to the environment necessary to put the water in a contained aquifer under extreme pressure.

Artesian Well vs Flowing Artesian Well

In the above diagram, you will notice that it shows 3 different types of wells. One is an ordinary groundwater well which I will not discuss any further. What’s unique about the other 2 wells is they are both labeled artesian wells. 

The difference is one is known as simply an ‘artesian well’ and the other is known as a ‘flowing artesian well’.

So, what makes these types of artesian wells different? 

It’s the surface level of the wellhead. 

With a regular artesian well, its wellhead is at a level where the pressure inside of its contained aquifer will not push it up to the surface without some help.

This is different from a flowing artesian well where its wellhead is at a surface level where the water not only is pushed up to it but actually ‘flows’ freely out of it with enough force to fill a container.

Why are Artesian Wells Unique?

The reason that artesian wells are so unique is the extreme depth that the contained aquifers they tap into lie at. Since they are so deep, artesian wells push up water that has passed through many underground rock and mineral layers that naturally filter it many times over.

Artesian water is also thought to be healthy because it picks up beneficial minerals as it passes down through these same mineral layers and these essential minerals are also thought to aid in hydration.

Downsides of Artesian Wells

I already mentioned that true artesian water is by far the purest form of water that nature has to offer, but don’t confuse that to mean that it’s 100% free of impurities because it’s not. 

It can and often does contain substances that can be harmful to your body.  

Those substances can include microorganisms, minerals, sediment, chemicals, and any other contaminants that are surrounding the artesian well.

Artesian water is also commonly bottled in plastics that may have a questionable impact on your health.

This is why sometimes it’s better to drink water coming from a quality well water filter than it is to drink true artesian water that is untouched after it came up from the ground.

That way you will know that the water that you and your family drink is free from many of the harmful contaminants commonly found in drinking water.

The highest quality drinking water in most cases is water that has passed through a filtration system that contains a reverse osmosis membrane inside of it.

Final Thoughts on Artesian Water: Is It Really Worth It?

I am going to try and be as unbiased as possible here.

There are two parts to my answer.

If you are someone that likes to live a greener lifestyle with a low carbon footprint, then the lure of drinking all-natural artesian water may greatly appeal to you. 

It also does not come with as many risks as drinking water obtained from a water table level well.

Just make sure that you also allow a very generous budget if artesian water will be your everyday drinking water of choice.

On the other hand, if you would rather make a sound initial investment that in the long run will make your water much cheaper than drinking artesian water and ensure its purity at the same time, then I would put a good reverse osmosis filter on the water line that supplies my kitchen faucet.

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AUTHOR
Craig Smith
Craig got his start in water working in the swimming pool and spa industry. Water treatment would grow into his main career but he ended up working in the pool industry for over 26 years where much of his time was spent balancing the water in customer's swimming pools and installing water filtration equipment. Craig offers an abundance of water treatment knowledge after helping homeowners get pure water for 26 years.

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