STATEN ISLAND — An unnamed spout of ice cold spring water is bubbling up through limestone below Staten Island, pouring onto land owned by the Marine Corps League and being collected by a steady flow of fans who arrive every day with empty bottles.
"We couldn't live without it," said Emerson Hill resident Mensur Frangu, 47, who's been filling up at the spring for more than 10 years.
"We just got so used to it. It's very good water, it's very light."
Though on private land, the Marine Corps opens it up for a few hours every day. On a recent weekday, a steady stream of people lined up at the entrance on Logan Avenue, in Sunnyside, and waited to fill jugs.
"I don't buy any water," said Grace Surge of Westerleigh, who said she's met people from all over the city and New Jersey who trek to Staten Island for the spring.
"People they come here [and collect] gallons and gallons of water."
Surge wheeled a hand truck with milk crates filled with empty bottles to the spring . She said she refills every couple of weeks.
"I like the water," she said. "It's a spring, there's no chemicals."
The steady trickle used to pour from a PVC pipe. When vandals damaged that, a spring user built a concrete block to protect it.
Though nobody is sure of the water's source, many of its fans said they believed it travels from Pennsylvania, filtering through limestone before spurting out of the ground in Staten Island.
They also don't know of any tests to determine its purity, though few have doubts that it is crystal clear.
"If not, then I wouldn't be coming," said Muhmet Dodie, 57, of Grasmere, who brought several five gallon jugs to fill last week. He estimates he saves about $15-a-bottle by not buying at a supermarket.
And Gerard O'Conner, 64, said his health is a testament to its quality. He's drank it for 40 years.
"It's great water," he said. "There no fluoride, no chlorine."
For Frangu who emigrated from Macedonia, the Staten Island water was a taste of home.
"We used to have one in the village when I was a kid," he said. "It's a normal thing."