Trent Millet believes in witchcraft.
But only around the bubbly, sparkling waters of Saratoga Springs. As the “Saratoga Water Witch,” Millet gives summer tours of sipping spots in the Saratoga Spa State Park.
Millet, 61, loves the job. He’s been devoted to the city’s springs since 2002, since treatments helped remedy his longtime skin and digestive conditions. He’s researched the different waters, and is fluent in the fluid assets of Saratoga Springs.
Q: How did you get the name “Saratoga Water Witch?”
A: I’m president of the Mohawk Hudson Chapter of the American Society of Dowsers, I’ve been involved with dowsers since 1993 — which are water witches. A friend of mine said, “Oh, you’re the Saratoga Water Witch.” So I used that for my Facebook page.”
Q: How busy is the water witch this time of year?
A: I do 11 standard tours a week, three on Wednesday, three on Saturday and three on Sunday at 10 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. I do two on Friday at 1 and 3 p.m. We leave the Roosevelt Bath and Spa, it’s the only bathhouse in town with naturally carbonated water — huge effects — and we go down into the lower Spa park and visit six of the waters. I also talk about some of the others remaining in town. Donations are accepted.
We visit Polaris, which is the most popular sparkling water in Saratoga, makes awesome smoothies, delightful water as a mixer. Most people relate it to seltzer, but it’s naturally carbonated so it’s much less bitter.
Tallulah is listed as one of Saratoga’s excellent table waters, it’s a still water — without gases, as they say in Europe. In other words, non-carbonated. Most excellent water. We visit Karista, it forms one of the rarest muds that were used for mud wraps, mud packs and mud baths for detoxifying the body.
Geyser is a sprouter, it sprouts about 20 feet into the air. It’s just a remarkable view to see. Right across from that is Hayes, which was used for the treatment of gall bladder and liver. Very strong water, tastes almost like sea water.
One of the most unusual we visit is Orenda, it means spiritual essence. It has three times the amount of potassium iodine than sea water has. It tastes a little salty, but it’s one people really come to enjoy and like an awful lot.
Q: Why is this mineral water so good for people?
A: The minerals in the water are identical to minerals in the body. We’re 70 to 78 percent water, and that water comes from Earth’s natural environment, the potassiums, the calciums, the magnesiums, the seleniums. All the different minerals in these waters are the minerals that are in plants and animals and human beings. Once you have the proper minerals, minerals dance with vitamins to create enzymes and carry out the instructions of the body.
Q: What kind of questions do people ask?
A: I get a lot of digestive questions, like which waters are good for what. I have a lot of Europeans on my tours, so they’re looking for a specific water that replicates what they had overseas. Hathorn, in the middle of town near Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, was used to cure digestive problems.
Q: Are people willing or anxious to try the waters?
A: The first spring I visit is Polaris, and like I said, it’s an absolutely delightful water. It bubbles out of the ground, about three feet high. If one person on the tour will try it, they’ll all try them. I hand them cups, it’s totally voluntary. Many of them are interested in reactions . . . somebody will come up to get water in a jug, and they’ll say, “What are you getting it for?” And it’s “Well, I mix it for my kids’ soft drinks” or “I’m taking it because it’s an excellent mixer with wine and alcohol.” If you stand by Polaris all day, 100 people will stop to get it to take home and that encourages other people to want to know why.
Q: Do you have to get approval to run the tours?
A: It’s in the Spa park, so I get their permission and their blessing, they recommend people to my tours. I have an excellent reputation in town; our mayor would like to have some of the lost springs turned back on. We originally had 200 waters, we have 19 right now. The 200 springs, each one was as different from another as you and I are different from each other.
Some would plug up, some are on private property, many are under parking lots or other buildings. As medical use for the waters dropped off, the city would say “We have enough for the tourists, so let’s let this one go by.” We’re hoping five or six of them will be turned back on.
Q: The Big Red Spring at Saratoga Race Course is out of your tour radius. But it’s popular with horse players — what can you say about Big Red?
A: Big Red, named after Man o’ War. It’s got some iron in it, magnesium, some potassium and salines. If you drink a six-ounce cup, it’s a superb water. More than six ounces can have a laxative effect. I know a lot of people who like it because it regulates them well . . . so it’s a six- to eight-ounce experience.
Q: You’re sold on the waters. What would you say to skeptics who are not as convinced on the waters’ value?
A: I’d tell them to stand by some of the springs noted for their medical qualities for four hours and tell them to talk to some of the 20 or 30 people who will come up and give them their lifetime history of the benefits.
Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.