Paying to drink bottled water seems ludicrous when living at the head of the world’s largest freshwater lake.
That’s one of the key themes of the city’s recognition of Canada Water Week, the beginning of which was marked at the Baggage Building at Prince Arthur’s Landing on Sunday.
EcoSuperior program coordinator Ashley Priem frequently fields inquiries from people regarding the safety and cleanliness of the city’s tap water. There is nothing to worry about, she says.
“There is some misinformation out there. The City of Thunder Bay puts out a water quality report every year that’s available online and it’s amazing to learn how fortunate we are,” Priem said, adding the only chemical that’s added is chlorine.
“The quality of our waste water actually surpasses some country’s drinking water...It’s really the best thing to be drinking.”
To start the week, the city and EcoSuperior were giving away free reusable bottles to anybody who pledged to turn their backs on buying bottled water.
They also had a taste test of bottled, filtered and tap water to see how many people could detect a difference between the three.
The local chapter of the Council of Canadians is seeking the city to earn the designation of being a blue community. Part of that designation is achieved through the banning of bottled water at municipal facilities and functions.
According to Council of Canadians local blue community initiative chair Janice Horgos, there is less certainty about the source of bottled water than the local Lake Superior water that flows from the tap.
“We don’t know where that comes from. Bottled water is guided by other regulations other than the city’s municipal tap water,” she said.
“Their plants are required to be inspected once every one to three years but the tap water here is inspected hundreds of times a day on a continuous basis.”
In addition to water quality, Horgos said the environmental costs of bottled water are staggering.
She estimates that it takes the equivalent of three to five bottles of water and a quarter of a bottle of oil to produce one water bottle.
In addition to focusing on bottled water, the week will also draw attention to protecting water quality.
Mayor Keith Hobbs read a proclamation at the start of the event, officially declaring the week in the city.
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The mayor serves as the chair of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities’ Initiative and said Thunder Bay’s location makes water a primary concern.
“A lot of people take water for granted and we’re trying to educate people on the water levels in the Great Lakes, invasive species, microplastics and things that can affect the drinking water for about 20 million people,” Hobbs said.
The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities’ Initiative is scheduled to hold their annual general meeting in Thunder Bay in June.
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