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PALM LATITUDES

Bottom Line : Water, Water Everywhere

August 28, 1994|Sharon Tetrault

Short of making the rain dance a requirement in schools, there's reallynothing we can dolife in the desert will always be a series of droughtsand near droughts. But one company will never have to worry about itswater source drying up. Seaborn Beverages, which turns seawater intocarbonated drinks, has the Pacific Ocean as its supplier.

"There is a mystique about water from the deep blue sea," says FrederikRodenhuis, who, with his partner, Bruce Sweyd, launched the NewportBeach company in late 1992.

Seaborn harvests its water six miles southwest of Catalina Islandbetween 50 and 500 feet below the surface. A specially designed vesselbrings the catch in several times each month, dropping it at a facilityin Long Beach, where it goes through a double reverse-osmosis process toremove the salt and impurities. The finished product is as clean as anyspring water, according to its makers.

Why bother with seawater at all? The answer is not as ecologicallycorrect as some might hope: "We had to have something that would makeour product different from all the other bottled waters. Capturing thepublic imagination is very difficult, but we think we've done it," saysSweyd.

Seaborn hit store shelves last January. With flavors like CatalinaCherry, Coastal Raspberry and Island Tangerine in stylish ocean-bluebottles, the company hopes to quench the thirst of a health-consciouspublic. It's available at several supermarkets and other outletsthroughout Southern California and a few other spots around the country.Talks are continuing with one large supermarket chain.

Sweyd and Rodenhuis, former executives with the Original New YorkSeltzer bottled water company, say they are on target to reach theirfirst-year goal of selling 6 million bottles.

"The larger beverage companies would never consider doing this. Theythink in terms of 100 million cases. When we hit 1 million cases, we'llbe chomping on cigars, throwing big parties and inviting everyone weknow," Rodenhuis says.

Just don't throw any of those cigar butts overboard.

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