Yes, Evian water is good for your kidney as it contains essential minerals and vitamins, and it tastes better than tap water.
The upscale resort of Evian, located on the French side of Lake Geneva, is surrounded by a magnificent mountain range, Alpine villages, and Alpine forests. The Mont Blanc, the highest point in Europe, lies hidden in the clouds to the south, surrounded by the snow-covered slopes of Olympic winter venues like Chamonix and Albertville.
The wide plateau visible in the photo is located at an elevation of 3.000 feet and is home to meadows, grasslands, woodlands, lakes, and wetlands. The area is known as the Gavot plateau, and it would be a breathtaking location for a golf course or holiday homes with its broad fields, copses, trees, and ponds, but no.
There is a good 40 inches of rain every year up here, and there is a lot of snow in the winter. A postage stamp in the huge Alpine terrain, the geography is simple to navigate and measures around 5 by 7 kilometers, or 13.5 square miles (if you do the arithmetic). It is less than 10,000 acres, or perhaps a dozen Central Parks the size of Manhattan.
This, as you can see, is the turning point for Evian mineral water. a single, unique watershed. Every drop of moisture that doesn’t evaporate but instead settles into the soil on this windswept plateau overlooking Lake Geneva, where small herds of Abondance, Montbéliarde, and Taurine cattle graze nearby their barns unaware of their breathtaking surroundings, sets out on a journey into the substrate.
These hills were covered by glaciers several millennia ago. Many meters underneath the grass where the cows are currently grazing are their mineral resources. Approximately ten kilometers by land and about half a mile down vertically lead to the shores of Lake Geneva and the town of Evian, where the mineral water was first discovered a few hundred years ago. This wedge-shaped layer cake of minerals finishes in the rocky hillsides that continue below.
We should tell out that Evian is not the only community to stake a claim to therapeutic waters. Around 50 cities in France have “les bains” (the baths) after their names, while Belgium has a town by the name of Spa, Germany’s “Bad” literally means “bath,” and Italy, whose benessere means “excellent health,” has thermal baths all over the place.
There are mineral springs around. White Sulfur Springs in Montana, Alaska, and West Virginia offer sulfurous bathing waters, while others have iron or magnesium. Because the waters were safe to drink and supported good health, they were very popular in the late 19th century.
For instance, it’s been said that Evian water can dissolve kidney stones. That would have been the Marquis de Lessert, who drank from one of Evian’s several springs and declared himself healed as early as 1789. The excellent news was communicated by Source Cachat. It would take a few more decades, but ultimately the wholesome water from Cachat’s spring would gain notoriety.
The Gavot watershed’s importance was recognized by the owners of the Evian brand 20 years ago. They employed hydrogeologists to establish the water’s provenance on the plateau at the “spring” in Evian itself (one of many; the most trustworthy belonged to a guy by the name of Cachat). Tests would later establish that the water travelled glacially from its absorption into the earth on the plateau until it reappeared at the Cachat spring, 15 years to be exact, taking up trace amounts of minerals like calcium and manganese along the way.
Now, this makes for a good marketing tale, obviously. Like the history of excellent wine, the genesis of Evian water may be found only here.
If it isn’t runoff or groundwater, it must go somewhere. Water often stays below ground until it is pushed to the surface. In Evian, you enter the rock sideways rather than downwards.
How much of water is it? A lot. Between 5 and 10% of the potential flow is made up by the 8 million bottles per day that Evian is pumping to its new plant. What is not contained in bottles travels further along the aquifer before arriving in Lake Geneva.
Although it’s windy up on the Gavot plateau, nobody is in any danger of constructing vacation cottages or a high-altitude golf course. Even 35 years ago, the Société Anonyme des Eaux Minérales d’Evian, or Evian, knew it would have to go above and beyond to safeguard its reputation. The corporation could not take the chance of contaminating its “raw material” if the hydrogeologists were correct and the Gavot site was the main source of the mineral water that surfaced 15 years later from the Cachat spring.
This didn’t entail uprooting the 60 family farmers, their cows, or their woodlands, but rather assisting them in staying put through sustainable (and, it just so happens, more lucrative) farming methods. Most recently, Evian constructed a methanizer to transform animal waste (roughly 40,000 tons of cow poop annually) into bio-gas and fertilizer. The biogas improves crops and provides forage for cows, and the fertilizer improves the methanizer’s power output, which is directly fed into the local grid.
In contrast, it is a given that you don’t push water bottles down the pipeline, you suck them out with consumer demand in the marketing department of the corporation (now part of Danone).
Water is the most fundamental beverage in the world, whether it is pure or unpurified, bubbly or flat, plain or sweetened. Finding a point of uniqueness is essential, and Evian does this by marketing not only its healthy purity but also the company’s environmental responsibilities and its relationship with excellent health, particularly by supporting championship athletes who are in top physical shape.
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The watershed is a public-private cooperation between corporate Evian, the “higher” villages on the Gavot plateau, and the lower, lakefront towns on the environmental front. Normal mineral water taxes would be paid to the local government, but Evian’s special structure makes sure that everyone has a stake in preserving the water’s pure attributes.
To that purpose, the business sponsors the Association for the Protection of the Evian Mineral Water Impluvium, a novel public-private cooperation (APIEME). It employs Cathy Le Hec, a dynamic ecologist whose role is to physically guard the watershed. (Awesome Vimeo link.) 13 municipalities, 1,200 residents of the mountainous villages, and residents of the lakeside communities are among the stakeholders.
However, they are currently selling more Evian than they can store in bottles. They are only consuming at most 10% of the water in the rocks, so the water won’t run out very soon. But their capacity for bottling was actually exhausted.
The first three bottling facilities were located just a few blocks from the casino and in the heart of Evian. The water was then piped three kilometers to a location on industrial land west of the town. Although it has passable road access, the dedicated rail line is more crucial for Evian than trucks. Unfortunately, there weren’t any other sites like this close to the Source Cachat. The “new” bottling line had to be constructed on the old one’s footprint in order to double its capacity. It would cost close to $200 million and take five years.
It’s not as though you can just move to the suburbs; the entire idea of Evian is its purity, the fact that it is unadulterated from the point at which it emerges from the rock until the bottle is sealed. It follows that the plant must be at the end of a continuous pipe. And there was just no available land, period.
There wouldn’t be room to store finished goods or pile up bottles. To import PET material, deliveries had to follow the just-in-time approach used by the Japanese auto industry; shipment had to be quick, with pallets being loaded into ready train cars. The 1,200 employees of the facility have undergone retraining and now use hand signals to “steer” a new breed of enormous, driverless forklifts as though they were training sheepdogs in a field trial.
Finally, a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility was held last week. Given that the purity of bottled water is one of its main selling points, it seems sensible that Evian and its parent company, Danone, are pleased that the new facility has received “carbon neutral” certification.
Executives at Danone are unafraid to support the goals of the Paris climate accords even while the Trump administration is still undecided on them.
For instance, 25% of the plastic used to create bottles is recycled; by 2020, that percentage will increase to 50%, and at the earliest opportunity, 100%. From a station inside the bottling factory, about 60% of shipment is done by low-impact rail. Reverse vending machines are available to promote the recycling of empty bottles, and a new container eliminates the need for a plastic yoke to hold four packs of bottles together.
“This achievement brings together everything we need to promote the brand’s expansion while safeguarding the natural resources we respect and continuing to develop the local economy,” Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber stated during the unveiling.
Now that Evian can package 8 million bottles per day, what comes next? New advertisements, new sizes. And new flavors (gulp).
The president of Evian Volvic World, Véronique Penchienati, stated in an interview that “the product itself does not alter.” “Protecting it is what we do,”
Ms. Penchienati does admit that the brand needs a boost, though. Evian has developed new goods and presentations in response to pressure from corporate rivals both large and small (Nestlé, Coca-Dasani, Cola’s, etc.), as well as its own brands (Volvic, Badoit). It is introducing a line of Evian waters flavored with organic juices to compete with products like the Mio concentrate (from Kraft).
I didn’t hide the fact that I was dubious. I use a Brita filter or the faucet at home to get my water. At the ribbon-cutting, where I was a guest of the business, I tried a few of the new waters. So far, three flavors have been created using fruits and plants. They seemed disgusting and sweet to me. How were you able to do that?
Pechienati reminded me that the goal is to attract folks who might not often choose water.