'Cool' Michigan water making its way onto Tulsa store shelves

Monday, August 11th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

He never planned on being in the bottled water business. In fact, nothing in his career was even close to it. So how does a successful Tulsa engineer in his 50's find himself running his own bottled water company?

As News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg tells us, it's kind of a "cool" story that takes us all the way to Crystal Falls, Michigan. So how does water get pulled from 500-million year old rock from a remote forest in northern Michigan and wind up a store shelf in Tulsa, Oklahoma, especially considering you can't find it anywhere else in the Midwest?

"It all got started by my brother buying a 120 acres up there in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Dennis Rose has lived in Tulsa for the past 13 years, but he grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and he and his brother bought the land for hunting. But when his brother looked through old city records, he found that in the early 1900's, a University of Michigan chemist named Dr. Vaughn had found an aquifer on their land while looking for a drinking water supply.

"When he located this aquifer and tested the water, he said it was the best he'd ever tested and tasted." So almost a century later, the brothers Rose were hunting not for deer, but for Dr. Vaughn's aquifer. "Then it was time to say okay, we have to cut a road into the forest, and then its get out the chainsaws. And on the 3rd try, after making three roads into the forest, we actually hit it."

But Rose says the extremely remote location is part of why the water's so pure. And he says they're one of the few brands to tell you the exact ingredients down to parts per million. "There's no farming in the area to contaminate the water and there's no manufacturing to dump solvents into the earth." Most bottled water doesn't tell you what's in it, some do, but most don't.

A successful aerospace engineer much of his life, Rose says he's now having the most fun of his career. And poor Dr. Vaughn was just a few decades too early. "In fact, he even tried to bottle the water back then, but who wanted to buy bottled water in 1900."