We all know that snow melt or rain eventually finds its way into streams, rivers and lake basins. The water that residents of Prince Albert take from their taps had its origins from as far away as the ice fields of the Rocky Mountains.
Considering mountain snows or glaciers as the source of our drinking water is rather comforting. But this is not an accurate perspective.
The water that flows from your tap is more likely to have its origins in a cattle feedlot miles from the Saskatchewan River, or in a field saturated by years of herbicide and pesticide applications. It is more likely to have had its origins from ground water seepages from springs or bogs that have been fed by municipal and private land fills or sewage lagoons or industrial effluent. The tap water we drink may have already been cycled through several municipal sewage systems.
We have relied on the effectiveness of municipal water treatment systems with high levels of chlorination to kill bacteria and filtration systems to eliminate other contaminants.
The events of Walkerton and North Battleford have focussed attention on the limitations of those systems. Is it not time for us to consider the whole system of water on which we rely? A sound public policy for safe, potable water will take into account the entire watershed and its interactive ecosystems. Sound public policy will recognize that a municipality alone cannot ensure safe water for its citizens, nor can any single provincial government. We need to have all jurisdictions that affect a watershed system working together on this.
For a rational and effective public policy to emerge, we must insist that our political leaders first become informed about the real nature of the origins of our water supplies.
Gerald Regnitter at Friendly Forest
Christopher Lake, Sask.
S0 J 0N0
phone: 306 982-3614