Do drink the water

This year’s Blog Action Day topic is water. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to share how grateful I am to have access to some of the world’s best drinking water.

But first, I want to talk about phones. Have you noticed the disappearance of public telephones? And how the remaining ones are falling into serious disrepair? This is a direct result of the migration to cel phones for those who can afford it. The fact that more and more of us don’t use public telephones allows them to vanish and fall into disrepair. As we use them less, the phone companies uninstall them to save money, while our lowered awareness of the remaining phones leads to less maintenance.

The ones who lose out are the economically disadvantaged. If you can’t afford a cel phone then you get to use the public phone a mile away if it wasn’t destroyed or barfed on by the last user. Complaining won’t do much good either as the phone company doesn’t see them as much of a profit opportunity anymore. Economic disadvantage leads to communication disadvantage while the wealthy move on to greener pastures.

What, you may wonder, does this have to do with water? It’s simple, the best way to protect the water supply is to drink from it.

I grew up on Saltspring Island, the most populated of BC’s Southern Gulf Islands. In my mind, drinking water only came from the tap. Our water was clean, fresh, and tasted good. There was no alternative and no need for one. The fact that people drank the tap water meant keeping it clean was in our best interest. The fact that we had the resources to keep it clean meant I grew up with some of the best drinking water on the planet, direct from the tap.

When I moved to Vancouver it was deeply ingrained in me to believe that clean drinking water was to be expected. But I became aware of a trend towards buying water in bottles. It wasn’t just the convenience either. Many people believed the dubious notion that this water was somehow cleaner and safer than the water that arrived from their taps, even though it often went through the most minimal of filtering. Aside from the obvious problem with creating and disposing of or recycling the bottles, this is a dangerous trend that could lead to the loss of clean water from the tap.

I’ve also done a fair bit of travel outside of Canada, with an extended visit to South East Asia. The vast majority of the places I visited there didn’t have access to clean drinking water unless it came in a sanitized bottle. For an outsider, drinking the tap water was an invitation to disease and disaster. While the locals are accustomed to the local water, it still transmits and creates many serious health problems. The problem here wasn’t a lack of awareness of the importance of clean drinking water, but a lack of the resources needed to clean the water. In tourist destinations, the plastic water bottles piled up on abandoned beaches because the locals had no way of disposing of them properly.

Upon returning to Vancouver I have always made a point of drinking the tap water, largely because I recognize what will happen if we don’t. If we cease to be aware of the water we receive as a gift from our taps, it will slowly get worse. Then we will avoid it because it actually is poisonous. Some of us will not have that option.

So I’m particularly excited about Vancouver’s Tap Water Campaign. As part of their green city initiative, Metro Vancouver has created this campaign to reduce the use of plastic water bottles. It includes a tap water pledge as well as web-based and mobile app maps to locate access to tap water for refilling multi-use bottles. There is also an invitation to tour the watershed during summer months and see exactly where your water comes from.

We are incredibly fortunate to have such a valuable resource and it is incumbent on each of us to protect it for our own future and for future generations. The best thing you can do to protect the water supply is to drink from it. Drinking the tap water breeds the awareness and vigilance required for us to continue to demand that our water is always the cleanest it can be.

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2 Responses to “Do drink the water”

  1. Carmen says:

    i’ll drink to that!
    have you seen the tap water drinking stations” around vancouver? there’s one at broadway stn.
    i am proud to drink tap water.

  2. sean says:

    Yes, and another at Parker and Commercial. I think these stations are part of the city’s response to last year’s scorching summer. Good for you for reaching for the tap. I have another friend who always asks for a glass of “Vancouver’s finest” when she’s dining out.

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