Water Haller - Municipal Water is Safe to Drink Dammit!

Please excuse the cussing, but I am sure many of you share this same frustration.  Certainly the criminal actions of the brothers in Walkerton hurt all of our reputation a little, but, overwhelmingly, Canadians enjoy some of the safest water in the world.  We’ll all see evidence of this at our National Drinking Water Conference this October 26-29 here in the National Capital Region.  We in the industry know that our water is safe, and we wouldn’t sleep if we thought otherwise, but it seems like an endless argument to convince the general public sometimes. 

I recently served as a judge to select the Best Tasting Water in BC.  Kelowna was this year’s winner, but honestly, all twelve entries tasted like...water...great water.  There were no bad water entrants.  A piece ran in the local news that night and I was blown away by all the online comments made by what I assume are crazy people ranting about how poisonous tap water is.  It took every ounce of patience not to comment myself, but you can’t argue on those online forums with unknown e-mailers – it only makes it worse and gives them more to say.

Bottled water isn’t going away either.   Despite campaigns about the enormous waste, sales are booming at ridiculous prices.  It is too lucrative for the sellers to walk away quietly.  Expect to see even greater marketing tactics to increase sales.  We are keeping an eye on their marketing to ensure they never suggest that municipally-treated water is  unsafe, but they are about to launch new schemes to increase sales.  Evian is looking a pink bottles and flowers and more.  Check out this story: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2014/08/631_162409.html

Along that same vein, CWWA is reacting to some marketing tactics being used by a water testing company offering services in the Atlantic region.  Their pitch is fear, stating, "Water testing in Nova Scotia is needed to ensure your water is safe and free of contaminants."  Then of course they offer to do that testing.  They even use the CWWA logo on one of their FAQ pages.  We’re dealing with this now!

The media doesn’t help much either.  I told you last year about how a convoluted story about the new Wastewater Regulations suddenly referred to uranium in one town’s water supply and how we should all be worried.  I also ended up on CBC’s "The Current" defending accusations that Canadian water is not safe.  The story was decided in advance pulling selected quotes from the book "Down the Drain" and obscure examples were found to support the producer’s storyline.  Without much prep, I was set up to ‘debate that book with one of its authors, Chris Wood.

Only after that radio debate was I able to meet Chris and read the book.  It’s actually a very good book!  I don’t agree with all the assumptions in the book, but it is well written and researched and certainly challenges us all.  There is ALWAYS room for improvement!   So we decided to give this book a proper forum for presentation and rational discussion, without a media lens.   So I have invited the other author, Ralph Pentland, to be our keynote speaker for the opening plenary at the National Drinking Water Conference.  Rather than a debate, we’ve organized a discussion and interview with Ralph, hosted by our most-collegial colleague Larry Moore.  I am looking forward to this discussion!

Canadian Water and Wastewater Association