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Water sale a splash for lakeside community

The Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce is selling bottles of crisp, pure water shipped in from a small town in Eastern Oregon



LAKE OSWEGO -- In a town where the most obvious source of water is off-limits to many, it's now possible for anyone to get something that tastes like Lake Oswego.

For the past month, the Chamber of Commerce has been hawking the city's "very own bottled water" for $1 a pop.

Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce water label
Actual Label

True, it's not from the privately-owned Oswego Lake. Nor is it from the Clackamas River, the water source for all Lake Oswego households.

The fancy stuff, emblazoned with a picture of a hanging flower basket, a boater on a lake and Mount Hood in the distance, actually comes from a mountain spring in Eastern Oregon. Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce officials have ordered 6,000 bottles to help raise money for the chamber's activities.

"While the drinking water (in Lake Oswego) is absolutely fine, we needed spring water for marketing purposes," said Jeremy Monlux, the chamber's interim chief executive officer.

The chamber considered several fund-raising ideas, including reviving the "Miss Lake Oswego" beauty pageant and organizing a murder mystery game involving local merchants, before settling on the idea of selling water.

Officials chose Oregon Trail Mountain Spring Water in North Powder, a small town halfway between La Grande and Baker City, for the job. The company, located about 200 feet from a mountain spring, bottles and labels water for school fund-raisers, anniversaries and weddings and much more.

Owner Ken Holman said a pioneer woman singled out the "wonderful spring" in her diary when her family stopped to drink from it on their way to settle in Oregon.

When asked to describe the taste, Holman said, "It's kind of like biting a crisp apple. It's 100 percent pure and natural water that Mother Nature put on Earth, and it hasn't been messed with."

Those who want to own a piece of Lake Oswego can choose from a handful of trinkets from the city store that spell out the city's name, such as Christmas ornaments, aprons, pens, caps -- even manhole covers. So what's the attraction of buying water?

"It's easy to transport, it's renewable, it's consumable, it's cheap," said Teresa Barnard, a State Farm agent and chamber member who came up with the idea. "And everybody drinks it."

Lisa Grace Lednicer: 503-294-5117; lisalednicer@news.oregonian.com