Get back to the tap, get off the bottle

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Rowan Allaire, 10, does a taste test with bottled and tap water samples at the Water Week information fair held Sunday at the Baggage Building Arts Centre at Prince Arthur’s Landing.
(Brent Linton)
Rowan Allaire, 10, does a taste test with bottled and tap water samples at the Water Week information fair held Sunday at the Baggage Building Arts Centre at Prince Arthur’s Landing. (Brent Linton)

Water Week was officially launched Sunday in Thunder Bay where the goal is to get people to return to tap water.
Ashley Priem, program co-ordinator at EcoSuperior, said Water Week is a national event, and in Thunder Bay this year, EcoSuperior’s partners include the Lake Superior Remedial Action Plan, Council of Canadians and the Earth Care water working group.
“What we are doing in terms of celebrating is to highlight how precious the resource of water actually is, how fortunate we are to be living on Lake Superior and that it’s easy to take it for granted,” said Priem.
“We really want to stress to people the importance of not only water conservation but water protection,” she said.
The theme this year is Going Back to the Tap, “celebrating our superior water and encouraging people to make sure they are using tap water as their primary source of drinking water,” said Priem.
EcoSuperior is offering a public tour of the Bare Point Water Treatment Plant on Wednesday, with transportation provided. Call 624-2140 to register.
Also on tap to mark the week:
• A school presentation will be launched by EcoSuperior to educate Grade 4 students about pollution that enters storm drains.
• The 5th annual Thunder Bay Environmental Film Festival runs March 19-23. On World Water Day, March 22, the festival will feature water-themed films, A Thirsty Word and Mysteries of the Great Lakes. The movies will be shown starting at 7 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre.
Janice Horgos, chairwoman of the Thunder Bay Council of Canadians’ blue planet committee, said the committee’s job is to promote “the human right to water and the protection of our lakes and waterways.”
Horgos said the committee has asked the city to make Thunder Bay a blue community.
“That involves recognizing the human right to water, promoting publicly financed owned and operated water and wastewater services, and banning bottled water in municipal facilities and at municipal events,” she said.
Mayor Keith Hobbs, who proclaimed Water Week, talked up the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, whose conference is being hosted in Thunder Bay in June. The conference is expected to attract 111 mayors from Great Lakes Basin and St. Lawrence communities.
“It’s bringing awareness to young and old about the importance of water and conserving it,” said Hobbs.
He said close to 600 billion litres of water are drawn off just in the U.S. alone for the bottled water industry.
“It is pretty scary . . . it would fuel 1.3 million vehicles for a year, just the oil that goes into making those bottles,” Hobbs added.
“We are looking at becoming a blue community. . . we are going to think long and hard on it for sure, but we have a great water treatment plant . . . we put a lot of money into that and we have some of the nicest, finest drinking water in the world,” he said.
First Nation Elder Josephine Mandamin led a water offering at the waterfront Spirit Garden to start Sunday’s event.