You have, no doubt, seen the bottles lined up on the shelves of your local grocery store. So many bottled water companies try to promote their water as being from "artesian springs" and the consumer is supposed to believe one brand is superior to the next. Forget all of those fancy store brands. The best tasting water comes when you bring your own cup or milk jug to a natural artesian spring or well and let the water from underground fill it.
The water from an artesian spring comes from what is called an aquifer, soil or rock which holds water. Just over the top of the aquifer is a layer of impenetrable rock or clay. Underneath the earth's surface, the water in the aquifer comes under a great amount of pressure. It is literally squeezed through faults or cracks in the rock or percolated through the porous soil until it reaches the earth's surface. The pressure present in the atmosphere is lower than that exerted upon the water in the aquifer and so offers little or no resistance. This results in the water bubbling, cold and clear, to the surface where it can be scooped up in containers.
Artesian wells operate along much the same principles except an artesian well is made by human hands. Once an aquifer is discovered underground, someone bores or drills a hole to get to the aquifer. The drill hole and pipe releases the water to come to the surface to equalize the pressure between the surface and underground.
Artesian springs and wells must have what is called a recharge area, a place usually on higher ground and close to the spring or well where water from above ground seeps into the aquifer. As the Minnesota State Health Department indicates on their informational page about this topic, the recharge area should not be anywhere near septic systems, old dumps or landfills, fertilized fields, or barnyards. The bacteria from these places will not filter out in the often short distance between the recharge area and the spring or well.
Artesian springs and wells can be found in some communities and on state or federal land and those springs or wells may be safe. You can generally find these by word of mouth or through an internet search. Listed with the resources at the end of this article is a website listing a few of the public artesian wells or springs in the United States. One such artesian well is located in northern Wisconsin's Chequamegon National Forest, Medford-Park Falls Ranger District. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail meanders around the Mondeaux Flowage and the artesian well is located close to the trail. What a wonderful place to quench your thirst after hiking the glacial eskers, moraines, and kettle lakes in the area!
Since 1993, the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act has become stricter. Requirements regarding increased testing and filtering and disinfecting the spring water before the public can drink it may mean the government will begin to restrict people from accessing public artesian wells and springs.
Soon, the only places you may be able to drink artesian spring water is if, as in the case of my 80 year old aunt, you have access to a spring on private land, or you buy the stuff in the plastic bottles in the store.
http://www.waymarking.com/cat/details.aspx?f=1&guid=44ae531c-cd7b-4049-8d82-9c2d678f2841 -site contains locations of various public artesian wells and springs in the United States