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The Cloud-Juicing Entrepreneur Who Bottles Rainwater

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
October 20, 2022 3:02 am

The Cloud-Juicing Entrepreneur Who Bottles Rainwater

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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October 20, 2022 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, there are over 80 bottled water companies in the United States, but one of them has changed the game forever, Richard Heinichen's company, Richard's Rainwater.

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To learn more, visit This is our American Stories, and we tell stories of all kind here on this show. And by the way, we live in a state where it rains a heck of a lot. We broadcast here in Oxford, Mississippi, about an hour south of Memphis. And our next story is about rain, or rather, an innovative entrepreneur's company that collects and bottles rainwater for sale out in Dripping Springs, Texas. That's right, Dripping Springs. That company is called Richards Rainwater, and its founder, Richard Heineken, can probably be considered the godfather of bottled rainwater in the United States.

Here's Richard in our own Monte Montgomery with the story. The idea behind Richards Rainwater started because of a dirty Texas well. Well, I moved out to Dripping Springs. I lived in Austin, Texas, and moved out to Dripping Springs to help my sister-in-law build the Austin Zoo out. Her parents had this property out there.

And Susie, my wife, and her sister lived out there, and her sister was raising goats, and they turned it into a zoo. So I moved to Dripping Springs and built a house, and out here in the hill country, there's no other source for water except for well water. And so I drilled a well, and the well guy was just leaving with a fistful of my dollars, says, Mr. Heineken, you have a lot of water there.

That's a darn good well, a good flowing well. And I went, oh man, I was so excited. Go in the house, brand new house, right, and took a shower. The hydrogen sulfite was so bad, I almost threw up in the shower. And the water was so hard, when Susie did the laundry, the Levi's could stand up in the corner, and our hair stood out like fright wigs. And we said, man, we can't handle this. Called a softener guy, said, oh yeah, that's some pretty damn hard water there. I can put you two tandem water softeners together.

I went, oh my God. So I looked into solutions, and I ran across a doctor who became a good friend of mine, Mike McAlvin, who had started catching rainwater for his wife to really realize the well water out here basically kills plants. It chokes their leaves.

If you spray it on their leaves, it carbonizes over, so they can't, they suffocate. So he started a rainwater collection for his wife's roses, and they flourished, and his house flourished. He got in to put it in his house. He flourished.

He was a really advocate for it, and I met him, and I became one myself. So I looked into storage and found a fiberglass manufacturer in Texas, and ordered a fiberglass tank, and put it in. It did a real Goldberg job, and it was all kind of new technology. But just plumbing is all it was. So it's just a water level.

Water, if your gutter's higher than the tank entrance, it goes in by itself, right? And so I did that, and hooked up a bump to it, and I took a shower, and I was the happiest guy in the world. The soap just came right off. It lathered up like you can't believe.

It smelled wonderful. It drank good, and the dishes, instead of being chalky, all of a sudden became clear. So my neighbor comes over and says, God, would you guys just buy some new dishes? And I said, no, we're just washing them in rainwater now. He said, oh my God, well, I've been buying new dishes every three years, and a new dishwasher every three years, so I want that. So I called back the fiberglass guy and say, hey, I want to be a distributor.

And he said, okay, let's work a deal. So I was selling fiberglass tanks like crazy. I was the biggest tank salesman in the whole planet. I put in literally hundreds of these things, and I've got a thousand people that were relying on Tanktown as their source for rainwater filters and maintenance prop things.

So that's how it happened. Then one day, I'm putting in these rainwater systems. I have a crew of guys, and I'm filling up our water for our consumption to keep cool, the whole crew, in one of those igloo five-gallon water buckets. One day we ran out, super hot day, in July. And so I said, okay, guys, I'm going back home to fill up our water again. They said, okay, hurry back. So on the way, I thought, you know, I should be able to pull into a store and buy this stuff.

And the bulb went off, right? So I went, oh, okay. So then I was just focused on bottling this stuff. So I read the regulations on water supply, realized that I needed to be a licensed operator to run a water supply. So I started going to correspondent schools, and I went to Berkeley Cal and Texas A&M, and I got a license to be a public water supply operator, got a permit number and all.

And then I started building a plant. And anyway, then I get to TECQ, the government agency that oversees our water supply in Texas. And they said, well, Mr. Heineken, that's a pretty good idea, but rainwater is not approved as a source for water. I said, okay, so where are you getting your water? He goes, well, you know where we get our water. We get it out of Lake Travis. Where's that come from?

Well, you know, it has, it's like rain. I said, okay, that's okay. So I'm going to, that's what, you know, so we need to make this, be able to have this as a source for water.

Oh, I don't know, sir. And another thing, Mr. Heineken, now that we got this conversation going, we can't talk to you anymore because you're not a licensed engineer. So I went, okay, great.

Well, I will come back. So I just had to prove it to them that it was a good source for water. So I built a little pilot modeling plant and they said they proved that. Built it on bare hands. I'm a blacksmith. I'm a sculptor.

I've cut the pipes and used transits and got the right things and welded everything up. And then we go out and put more systems in and I get more, some more money, go out and buy more metal, put it all up. And then I thought, man, this is, I'm, I can't really start this yet. I got the plants going.

I got everything. I need some tanks. I ended up buying 13 tanks and we had like 250,000 gallons. And then I had the engineers and he's a friend of mine and basically wrote it on a napkin.

I said, here, write this out, make it look real visual. Here's what we're going to do. We're going to micro, we're going to put us through really tiny filters and we're going to separate it after it goes into a couple of tanks. And then we're going to put it through UV light and then we're going to store it in a sanitary tank. And then we're going to put just before we bottle, we're going to put ozone in it. Now, ozone, it's a really great sanitizer. Citi's water supplies use chlorine and chlorine is a cancer causing chemical.

And so we didn't want to do that. The clean water act required public water supplies to use chlorine and there was no other source of sanitation they would approve. I have a saying, the solution to pollution is dilution.

And it's the same thing these cities use. They just say, well, okay, here's 10 gallons of chlorine. And so we're going to have to mix that with 13,970 gallons of water and that'll do it.

Okay. It might taste a little chlorine, but anyway, can't do that. And so my plan was I said, okay, here's the deal. If you take me to court and here's a little, we have to end up in court. I'm going to tell the jury that, okay, here's what they want me to do with my rainwater. They want me to put chlorine in it and that will cause cancer possibly. And then rainwater we've already proved it has no cancer causing byproducts in it from the way we sanitize it. So it seems like a really smart thing to do. And so, and then also if you say I can't do it, then it'll be, it won't be good.

Cause the jury is going to say, well, Mr. Heineken, we certainly don't want you to get cancer. So we'd like your idea. They said, well, we kind of like your deal and it's also sustainable.

And then we'd started doing testing on it and, and then did their monthly reports and it all always came back just beautiful. And at that point, more people in Austin and out in the hill country were getting into rainwater collection. So everybody's calling this anxious and saying, Hey, I want to put a whole rainwater system in my house. So four years later, we got the first public water supply using rainwaters, sole source of water without using chlorine. And then that's it.

It's all over town and it's pretty damn good feeling, but it's a little difficult to get. But Richard makes the bottling process sound pretty easy. After captioning and put it in a, in a collection tank.

That's the first thing to do. Like the city of Austin doesn't have to worry about that cause they just suck it out of the lake. We have to put it in a tank that has no light in it because light makes algae and algae is, is a, is not our friend. And then we've processed that through more filtrations and then UV light. And then finally, just before it goes into our bottling line, we add a ozone to it at a certain percentage.

It only lasts 15 minutes. And then, and then we put it in the bottle and we seal the top of the bottle. And then, so that's a perfectly pure bottle of water. Cause there's no trihalomethanes in it, no chemicals in it. And it's just, it's just a beautiful bottle of water and you can taste it immediately. When you taste it, it's sweet because rainwater cleans your mouth. I know it's kind of gross, but there's calcium on your teeth all day long.

It's building up calcium when it washes that off. It's just amazing. So I've never had anybody say, boy, that's a lousy bottle of water. It's always, Hey, this is the best darn bottle I've ever had. And it just, that's the fact that's what kept us going because it's an absolute truth. There's any kind of comparison of another bottle of water. It's just like blind testing.

It's just kind of a simple thing to do because you're just, it's so obvious. And I've been through a lot of them and rainwater always prevails. And great job as always to Monte Montgomery. And you've been listening to Richard Heineken, Richard's rainwater, the story behind the product and the man here on our American stories.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-20 18:35:21 / 2022-11-20 18:41:24 / 6

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