Spring to Bottle

Spring to Bottle

Blue Spring Living Water proves you should think about what you drink

Words by Sarah Cait Sawyer
Photos by Harper Nichols

Water. It makes up 60 percent of the human body. That’s right—more than half of your body! 

Drinking it is the most important health decision we can make. And while hydration has become increasingly popular over the last few years, most of us never stop to consider something that is even more important than water intake itself—its source.

Where on earth does the water that fills our trendy water bottles actually come from? After meeting with Cameron and Elizabeth Cardwell of Blue Spring Living Water, a premium water brand based in Blountsville, Alabama, I drank in a surprising truth: not all water is equal. 

After twenty-five years working in film production, Cameron Cardwell was burned out. He wanted to do something different. Hearing about Blue Spring, a centuries-old spring rich with history and pristine water located in the foothills of the southern Appalachian Mountains, he couldn’t let go of the desire to learn more.

Soon after, Cameron was speaking with the owner of a local organic grocery store when a delivery truck pulled in. When the door opened and the store owner saw the delivery of fresh spring water, he exclaimed, “Oh, thank God! If only we could get more spring water supplied!” An obvious sign, Cameron immediately took action and was graciously given the phone number for the owner of Blue Spring’s 100-acre plot.

The owner of the spring, Mr. Ottis Shedd, was 95 years old at the time. He told Cameron that he had already promised the eventual sale of the spring to someone else, but Cameron knew it had been sitting untouched for years. The phone call was brief, but after hanging up, Cameron still felt something he couldn’t ignore. He quickly redialed Shedd’s phone number, requesting to at least drive up to Blount County to see the spring in real life. “Boy, I’m 95 years old!” Shedd exclaimed. “I don’t do anything but sit around all day, so of course you can get on up here and visit me!” So off Cameron went, making the one-hour drive from Mountain Brook to Blountsville. 

I asked Elizabeth what she thought of Cameron’s determination in seeking out Blue Spring. “He was so intentional about what he was doing that I knew it must be a God thing,” she responded. 

When Cameron pulled into the drive of the Shedd property, a stunning woman with deep brunette hair was working in the yard. “Pulling weeds, arms a little bloody, she was clearly strong and healthy,” Cameron described. He later learned that this was Mr. Shedd’s wife, who, despite looking as though she was maybe 70, was in fact in her 90s. She was living proof, inside and out, of the positive effects that drinking the right water can have on your life.

Shedd was relaxing in a chair on the porch when Cameron arrived. An icon in the community, Shedd had been drinking from Blue Spring since he was a child. Having always felt a deep connection to the spring, he expressed to the former owners (the Vanzandt family) as a young boy that someday, he’d like to own the 100-acre plot of land. Just before Mr. Vanzandt passed away, he sent his two sons, on foot, to make an official deal with Shedd. Ever after, Shedd and his family continued the legacy of not only fueling their lives with this incredible water, but also sharing its wealth with those around them. 

Cameron and Shedd spent a few meaningful hours together, but alas, the land had been promised to someone else and Shedd was unwilling to budge. Just as Cameron was getting ready to leave, he pointed at a Gibson Hummingbird guitar on the wall, noting that he was the proud owner of the same kind. “Get that guitar down and play something for me,” Shedd requested. And before he knew it, Shedd had handed Cameron a set of keys and sent him out the door, insisting that he take a walk to the covered spring, experiencing it for the first time alone. “The first time and every time you see the spring, it is a childlike experience,” Elizabeth added. Shedd finally offered the sale—contingent on a few logistics, such as getting his daughters on board. 

In June 2017, Cameron Cardwell continued his quest to bottle and sell pristine spring water, now as owner of Blue Spring and of Blue Spring Living Water. Adding only the word “Living,” he kept the name to honor the spring’s heritage, one of the many ways he did so. (Watch for the eagle on the label, which was a part of the original brand as well). 

While this story is filled with much purpose and meaning, it all comes back to one thing: the water. As I sit here writing these words, I am sipping Blue Spring Living Water from a BPA-free and fully recyclable bottle. But its velvety taste is not its only benefit. This water, bottled directly from the source, is filled with things such as calcium and magnesium (vital to bone and muscle health) and silica (flushes toxins and boosts collagen). “You wouldn’t believe the number of calls we get,” Elizabeth shares, referring to the number of customers who have experienced true life change from consistently consuming Blue Spring Living Water. 

We’re hyper-familiar with the concept of “farm to table,” truly caring about the food we eat. But what about “spring to bottle?” Cameron and Elizabeth are on a mission to share and educate people on the importance of connecting to the water they drink. Unlike many mass-distributed water brands, there is never a question as to where Blue Spring Living Water actually came from, or when it was harvested (dates are included on every bottle). Producing around one million gallons of the healthiest, cleanest water every single day, the spring is a picture of the abundance of resources we are given here on earth. “It is truly a gift,” Elizabeth says.

And when I asked about plans to grow their distribution outside of Alabama, the couple responded,“We want to be good stewards of this gift and respect the people who loved it before we got here. We want to do Alabama well, to be a part of our state’s health story.” For Cameron and Elizabeth, it's all about educating people on the importance of the water they drink. It's about sharing clean, healthy water, and decreasing the carbon footprint along the way by taking deep thought and care in how it's packaged. 

I can only imagine the awe of encountering Blue Spring hundreds of years ago—or even today. I can only imagine the quenched thirsts of early settlers in Alabama, or the joy of an afternoon swimming hole adventure. While these real parts of history feel like fantasy, I feel immensely grateful that the gift has continued and been passed along—all the way to the bottle in my hand.