Just when I thought I knew about all the secret spots in our area, I recently learned about an extraordinary resource less than 15 miles from my home. For those of us who prefer to drink clean, untreated water, there’s a free artesian well in Lynnwood just moments off of I-5. The water runs continuously from two large pipes and is tested for bacteria on a regular basis by the Alderwood Water and Wastewater District. All you need to do is bring your water containers and get in line. If you read the reviews on Yelp, you’ll soon realize that your wait time can be long, especially if you happen to arrive after people stocking up for months and filling many containers. It’s open 24 hours a day but I went on a stormy Friday morning around 10:30 am. There was one nice woman in front of me with 5 containers (which she said lasts her a month) and she generously let me go in front of her with my one container. She also gave me an excellent tip to cover your stored bottles and keep them out of the sunlight to prevent the growth of algae.
With reportedly very good city water in Seattle, you may wonder what makes this water so special and why anyone would wait in line and haul heavy containers around (a five gallon jug of water weighs almost 42 lbs.) Artesian springs are relatively rare and there are only 3 listed in the state of Washington on the Find a Spring website. An artesian well is water contained in an aquifer – a layer of porous and permeable material. This aquifer is confined between layers of impermeable rocks or clay causing the pressure that brings the water to the surface without the use of a pump. The water is filtered as it seeps through the rock to reach the aquifer. The biggest difference is the water is naturally clean without the double dose of chlorine and ultra-violet lights that are necessary to keep our city water safe to drink.
This is the closest thing that I’ve seen to a community watering hole. Most folks had large BPA-free containers but there were several that didn’t and seemed to be filling their water bottles for the day on their way to work.
The location itself is very unassuming and I can see how you might drive right by and not realize it’s there. Several of the people that go on a regular basis are very interested in keeping it that way and asked me not to tell anyone else about it. Many thanks to my friend Jane for sharing this secret with me. She wisely believes that it’s a free resource that should be available to anyone willing to make the trek. Here are the directions: From Seattle head north on I-5, take exit 183 — 164th St. Turn left off the exit. You’ll be on 164th St and will head back west over the freeway. Stay in the right hand lane. It’s unmarked and at the bottom of the first hill just past 22nd St. If you go slowly, you’ll see the turnoff and there are several (maybe 6) parking spaces. There’s a covered shelter with room for two people to fill at once. Normal rules of etiquette apply — wait your turn in line and if you’re feeling generous, let someone with fewer containers go ahead of you.
Originally I thought I might take this water up to Orcas Island with us since we still don’t have our sink hooked up. Now that I’ve tasted it, I’m afraid I may have to buy another container and leave one here in Seattle for drinking water. It’s just that sweet.