Soon you’ll be able to buy Hallstatt water – bottled mineral water called Hallstatt Wasser, reports the Salzkammergut-Rundblick.
Actually, the water will not be bottled in Hallstatt, instead it will be tapped and bottled in Obertraun, the small town across the lake. From there it will also be readied for shipping and put on a train. But that’s a minor detail.
“Hallstatt Water” is pure water from the Dachstein glacier. As you may know, the Dachstein with its foothills towers over Hallstatt and it’s the second highest mountain in Austria. Hallstatt, as does Obertraun, lies at its feet, but you can’t see it from the bottom of the valley, smaller peaks are in the way. Creeks and brooks filled with Dachstein water feed Lake Hallstatt, but “Hallstatt Water” is different, still.
The water comes directly from the glacier. Measurements showed it originates at an elevation of nearly 3000 meters (9800 feet). It sickers downward over a period of years, through cracks and crevices in the Dachstein geology, to an aquifer some 214 meters (702 feet) below the valley floor at Obertraun. From there it rises to the surface as an artesian spring at a constant temperature of 5.3 degrees Celsius (41.5 F), ready for bottling and drinking.
The spring couldn’t be stopped, according to geologist Wolfgang Gadermayr from Hallein. Under constant pressure of water filtering down through the Dachstein massif, the water rises to the surface naturally. It can be tapped without the aid of pumps that might in some way mess with its purity.
A company from Innsbruck called “Alpine Water” (and owned by the Muhr family), found the spring 10 years ago. The company had searched the world for high quality mineral water until they found a source close to Obertraun.
The spring is not in any way connected to municipal drinking water wells or even other Karst springs in the region.
Milestone for Obertraun
It took years and 57 permits before the Alpine Water company could start construction of the filling station. Now they are almost done. In March 2016 it will begin operating and producing bottled “Hallstatt Water”.
According to “Alpine Water” CEO Alexander Muhr, the company will initially focus on selling “Hallstatt Water” in North America and the New York metropolitan area. At first, “Hallstatt Water” will only be available in 5 gallon containers (19 liters) and sold over the internet. Other means of marketing and distribution will also be explored and developed.
Obertraun Mayor Egon Höll is pleased with the jobs the project will create, and he expects it will improve Obertraun’s standing in the region. He says “Hallstatt Water” is a “Milestone for Obertraun”. It will create jobs and improve the intrinsic value of the Obertraun community and even the entire Salzkammergut. More importantly, it is one of the first developments in this community not connected with tourism.
In addition, the project is sustainable and will not impact sensitive resources of the area. It’s located in a natural setting, it couldn’t be in a better place, and it will not produce any harmful emissions.
Meanwhile, Hallstatt is upset. The town is starting legal proceedings to stop “Alpine Waters” from using “Hallstatt” on its labels. The name of Hallstatt is theirs, they say, and no one obtained their permission to use it.
Alpine Water company says they have done their homework, they have even obtained a trademark.
I expect they’ll settle their differences. The two communities have been friends for a long time, once Obertraun even was a part of Hallstatt. And Hallstatt has also settled its differences with the Chinese who built a copy of their town without asking them.
While I’m not a fan of bottled water, I’m looking forward to sampling “Hallstatt Water”, when it becomes available.