Jose Sanchez

Photo by: PAUL ROUPE/209 Business Journal Jose Sanchez fills up his jug at Adobe Springs while his son Ernie looks on.


It seems strange to get excited about free water, but when it comes from the magnesium rich Adobe Springs just 40 miles west of Turlock, the elation is understandable.

Pulling off Del Puerto Canyon Road, which slices jagged paths through the rocky Adobe Canyon, there lies an oasis in the middle of the wilderness. A sign points to the spigot site a few feet away.

Travelers can haul off as much water as they can load up, but that’s because this area is home to Red Mountain Mine, the most abundant magnesium laced water source in the U.S.
It is the only licensed spring in the state that meets the World Health Organization standard for magnesium content per liter. The recommended minimum is 25 mg, but the water here has 110 mg per liter. For a bit of reference, most bottled water available in stores will only contain a paltry average of 3 mg.

So why should you care about this mineral?

Numerous studies have shown a correlation between the consumption of magnesium and an increase in cardiovascular health. In a nation plagued by heart disease, drinking water loaded with this element can help stave off strokes and hypertension. But the benefits don’t stop there. It can lower blood pressure, prevent and manage diabetes, steady irregular heartbeats, inhibit hardened/blocked arteries, alleviate migraines and cramps and even improve the length of exercises.

According to, “the U.S. National Academy of Sciences has estimated that a nation-wide initiative to add calcium and magnesium to soft water might reduce the annual cardiovascular death rate by 150,000 in the United States.”

Most Americans are magnesium deficient and at high risk for heart disease because of processed foods, natural mineral loss in water through purification, and soil that is minerally deficient or depleted altogether.

There is a high probability that the bottled water you’ve been drinking contains little to no minerals. This is because most bottlers get their water cheaply from municipal sources. They then purify it through reverse osmosis, which removes the contaminants but also discards essential minerals in the process.

Consisting of steep hills, sparse brush and broken rock formations, the Diablo Range cannot support industrialized development. As a result, there is no chance for human encroachment to pollute the water source with pesticides, insecticides or other dangerous chemicals.

On a particularly sultry summer day, the spigot at 19000 Del Puerto Canyon Rd. gets a few visitors. One woman loads up several jugs of cool water into the back of her car while a man and his son wait for their turn.

José Sanchez and his son Ernie are first-timers here. They heard about the positive effects, and have come to fill up three 5-gallon jugs and bring them back home to Modesto.
“I’ve been reading up on it,” says the father, José, “and we need magnesium in our system.”
After filling their containers and tying them to the bed of their truck, they head back to try the water.

“It’s definitely clean and refreshing,” says Ernie. “I was expecting a mineral, metallic taste, but it has an earthy taste.”

Being that most of us are used to water without sufficient magnesium content, the taste is different. That’s not to say it isn’t good, which it most definitely is. It doesn’t have the tap water feel of Arrowhead, or the grainy taste of other bottled waters.
Paul Mason, owner of Adobe Springs, wants you to know that if you keep drinking it, your body and especially your heart, will thank you.

He wants to promote the importance of magnesium—specifically through mineral enriched spring water — and Adobe Springs donates to scientists to foster research, conduct seminars and provide education about the mineral.

“I’ve got the world’s leading magnesium researchers behind me,” he says.

This alliance with the scientific community allows him to inform the public, through scores of studies, that increased magnesium intake through water is unquestionably beneficial.
But if not for a motorcycle trip through Adobe Canyon in 1982, the springs may never have been discovered.

Mason was riding his Triumph 750 through the canyon to get away from his job in San Jose restoring old Victorian buildings. The heat reached an unbearable 110 degrees, and as he zoomed shirtless through the twisted roads, he suddenly felt a cool breeze rush over him. Seeing this as odd, he stopped and attempted to find the source just off the street, but was rebuffed by a locked gate. Not thinking much of it, he returned home. In 1985, he was looking to buy some property to fix up, and coincidentally, the United Farm Agency led him to the same spot he had passed by years earlier.

The land was in disarray, littered with thousands of tires and overgrown willows, so he got to work cleaning up. Though the creek was dry, there was some water flowing near his new home. Intrigued, he hopped on his backhoe and dug around for a while. Soon after he struck liquid gold. He took a gallon of the water to a chemist to see if it was drinkable, and the tests revealed the extremely high magnesium content.

About two years later, Adobe Springs was up and running.

Now, Mason’s goal is to get the word out about the water.

“We’re the only (industrialized) country with no mineral water industry. There are a few companies back east, but they are small,” he says.

From the 1930s to the late 50s, the FDA and the AMA “did a lot of badmouthing” about mineral water companies. They threatened them with jail or closure of their businesses to secure profits for pharmaceutical companies and keep doctors treating illnesses derived from magnesium deficiency.

Mason has spent thousands of dollars trying to get Governor Brown and President Trump to pay attention to the crisis, but to no avail.

He insists the most important thing isn’t profit, it’s letting people know how valuable magnesium is to the body.

“We’re not gonna live in mansions,” he says. “The idea is to save as many lives as we can.”