by Kathy Sabo May 16, 2023
In the 80’s and early 90’s, at home, in most Regina homes, we would drink tap water without hesitation. We frequented water fountains that were conveniently located throughout the city, including the pathway around the Queen City for those on bike rides or walks. However, the attitude towards drinking tap water has shifted over time. While some attribute this change to social culture, others believe it's due to necessity.
I recently purchased a water cooler for my family, and I wanted to share the reason behind it. For 42 years I have never complained about our water. I had no problem drinking tap water, as it is a healthy option for myself and the environment. However, a recent experience with one of my kids water bottles changed my perspective. My daughter brought home water from her school's fountain, and I decided to take a sip from her bottle. The taste was awful, it tasted like what I imagine swamp water tastes like. Since then, I have not been able to drink tap water anymore, despite my husband insisting that our fridge filter is sufficient. It was a tough decision, but we ultimately decided to invest in a water cooler to ensure the quality of our water.
So what is actually going on right now in Regina, SK in terms of water? When I looked it up, I found that the water levels are low at Buffalo Pound Lake, the city's primary source of water.
The lake water is experiencing an increase in the growth of algae. This can occur naturally, but can also be caused by human activities such as fertilizer runoff or sewage discharges. Algae blooms can have negative impacts on the ecosystem, such as depleting oxygen levels in the water and harming fish and other aquatic life. In fact, if you plan on swimming or boating in a lake with algae you need to check if you should swim or not with the park service. They know if any advisories or restrictions are in place. And we are drinking this!
What's next for Regina's drinking water supply?
The water treatment plant is building its granular activated carbon ﬁltration system (GAC) to start operation during the week of May 15th. Usually, GACs are put into operation in late May well before algae blooms start. Obviously, this year we have it much earlier. To help, the water treatment plant has been adding powdered activated carbon to reduce the taste and odor. This process is only a temporary measure and has a limited impact.
The Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant (BPWTP) is presently undergoing a $325M renewal, with construction scheduled for completion in 2025. Renewal efforts include process enhancements that will provide year-round taste and odour removal.
I also read in the National Post that algae blooms might be connected to the mysterious illnesses in New Brunswick. Find more info here. A neurologist, Dr. Alier Marrero, who is studying an unidentified brain disease affecting dozens of New Brunswick residents, is urging the Canadian government to conduct environmental tests for the herbicide glyphosate. Marrero’s letter says glyphosate pollution could be contributing to the growth of the blue-green algae blooms found in New Brunswick’s water supplies.
I just can't drink my tap water anymore. I can't. I get that paying for bottled water might not be an ideal concept, especially when you consider the cost of gas, time, and energy required to produce and deliver it. However, the quality of water has become so poor that it's becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.
I'm cautiously curious to discover what the future holds for our water supply. With various factors such as algae blooms, droughts, hurricanes, floods, and water displacement, it's important to consider the availability of drinking water. We should all be mindful of the politics and the potential consequences. The lack of action on this issue is truly alarming.
We know there are better ways to do things, but often we don't know what they are. Luckily, there are so many people out there sharing innovative ideas on multiple platforms, such as social media, blogs, Twitter accounts, and even TikTok. While it's easy to just go to the store and buy what we need, we can all make an effort to research alternative methods to improve our current situation.
Although I may grumble about the odor and taste of my tap water, I am mindful of my good fortune to have access to drinkable water that flows directly to my home. It is important to acknowledge that there are Indigenous communities in this province that do not have drinkable water, and I sympathize with their plight. Despite my complaints, I am grateful for the privilege of being able to drink a glass of water from my tap even if it is stinky and tastes gross.
*edited- Regina is not on a water conservation advisory currently, when posted the original version mentioned it was
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