Nearly all of us will remember learning about the water cycle at school. It’s all quite simple. First, water falls to the earth as rain, and collects in oceans, lakes and rivers. This water evaporates in hot weather, then forms clouds, and the cycle starts again. You may have also learnt about water processing – i.e. the collection, filtering and distribution process water goes through before it ends up in your taps. (And the cleaning process it goes through after it ends up in the sewer…) This process happens in huge water filtering plants. It is, in a sense, mankind’s own intervention into nature’s water cycle – a process that has gone on for a very, very, very long time. But nature has its own water filtering system too. Throughout the world, lucky droplets of H 2O are caught in natural springs, destined to become clean, clear spring water. By definition, a spring is simply a place where water flows out of the ground, after passing through an ‘aquifer’ – a body of rock which is saturated with, and transmits, water. Not all springs produce clean water. The quality of water that enters the spring, and the type of rocks the water passes through, amongst other factors, can affect the quality of the water that eventually leaves the system. These springs might produce discoloured or otherwise odd-looking water. But even if the water’s clear, it might not be clean – so if you come across a spring, don’t assume its water’s okay to drink. But occasionally, natural conditions are just right. When this happens, the natural world dishes up beautiful, clear spring water that requires little or no processing – having spent years caught up in nature’s own water filtering system. When these magic conditions are met, the water often picks up essential minerals like calcium, which could have dietary benefits – and lots of people think it tastes better too. Of course, drinking water from taps can be clean and tasty. But for many, it just doesn’t have that great spring water taste.