Wellness: What’s on Tap? A Refreshing Perspective

by Erica Blitz | July/August 2012

Water is all around us—we have the Pacific Ocean, the Fraser River, numerous mountain lakes and (there’s no denying it) significant annual rain fall. However, we all too often take for granted our high-quality and abundant drinking water that originates from rainwater and snow melt from the pristine mountains on the North Shore and in the Coquitlam area.

While there appears to be an abundance of water in the Vancouver area now, the inevitability of climate change and the consideration of Vancouver’s growing population and were motivating factors for the multi-million-dollar upgrade of the Seymour-Capilano water filtration plant in Metro Vancouver. Not only is this state-of-the-art water filtration system Canada’s largest water facility (and one of the biggest in North America), but it also uses UV light to disinfect potential pathogens, targets turbidity (cloudy water) and incorporates various innovative energy efficiency features as well. With a daily capacity of 1.8 billion litres, there is no need to boil, filter, or treat this water in any way, and some would argue the Seymour-Capilano plant produces the best tap water in the world.

Water snobs, beware. If you think that bottled water products are more pure and a healthier option for clean tap water, think again. Bottled water plants are often inspected only once every three years. Metro Vancouver, on the other hand, tests its water (from hundreds of sources) over 136,000 times per year.

So, Vancouver: Why are you buying so much bottled water? Convenience, you say?

With all of the fun and funky, eco-friendly water bottles on the market, there’s no reason to be without a reusable water bottle. If you’re out and about in Vancouver, finding tap water on the go is even easier with the Get Tap Map app. Use your iPhone to download this app from iTunes to quickly locate the closest public drinking fountains in Metro Vancouver (for Androids and Blackberries are coming soon). With over 550 public drinking fountains in municipalities spanning from West Vancouver to Langley, you won’t go thirsty.

Another reason that it is worthwhile to switch to drinking tap water over single-use plastic bottled water is the cost. Tap water costs approximately $0.0008 cents per litre, whereas bottled water ranges anywhere from $2–4 per litre, making bottled water more expensive per volume than gasoline.

Although plastic water bottles can be recycled, the truth of the matter is that between 40 and 80% of empty bottles end up directly into the garbage. Metro Vancouver estimates 3 million plastic bottles end up in BC landfills each year.

Is it time to give up the (water) bottle, Vancouver? I think so.

Tap water is making a comeback.