The last few weeks have been some of the hottest the City of Toronto has experienced in years. It’s definitely summer. Days are clear, the sun is generous and we need to keep hydrated.
To help reduce the wasteful, expensive and polluting reliance on bottled water and associated plastics-use, the City of Toronto embarked on a campaign to make tap water more accessible to those enjoying the outdoors during events in Toronto. Following other cities like Guelph, the City of Toronto purchased two HTO To Go water trailers that can provide tap water, free-of-charge, to select public events between May 1 and September 30. Trailers are set up and staffed by City staff, and feature the following:
- Stainless steel troughs on each side
- 10 drinking water taps (five on each side)
- 10 taps to fill water bottles (five on each side)
- Step stools and cups, if needed
- Water bowls for pets
- Information booth featuring Toronto Water programs and services
To be eligible for consideration, events must:
- be located within Toronto and take place during the trailer operating season, May 1 to September 30
- have an estimated attendance of at least 500 people
- be at least four hours long (not including set-up and take-down)
- occur during daylight hours
- be open to the public and non-restrictive
Event organizers must provide an appropriate area with sufficient space to set up (high-traffic area with at least 30′ x 15′ for the trailer and promotions tent). Here’s how it works:
- Applications must be received at least eight weeks prior to the event date.
- The City of Toronto often receives more than two requests for the same date. Final decisions are based on the level of opportunity to promote Toronto Water’s key messages and programs.
- Trailers may not be available during emergencies or Toronto Water-sponsored events.
- Applicants will be notified of their application status eight weeks prior to the event date.
- If selected, staff will arrange a time to conduct a preliminary site assessment to ensure the trailer can be set up in a suitable location that has access to a safe supply of drinking water. Once the site is approved, applicants will receive an email to confirm the trailer.
- Successful applicants will be asked to provide a site plan and Certificate of Insurance.
- Crews will deliver and connect the trailer to a safe supply of potable water (usually a fire hydrant or connection to a building’s water supply) on the agreed upon date and time.
- Once the event is complete, staff will disconnect the trailer.
Why Tap Water Instead of Bottled Water?
“Water is a public trust,” says Maude Barlow, Senior Advisor on Water Issues to the President of the United Nations. “This means that no one owns water in a jurisdiction but rather that it belongs to a nation’s citizens, the ecosystem and the future.” To buy bottled water is literally to buy into a paradigm that accepts that water is not free but can be bought and sold. It makes water a commodity.
Water is a natural right for all living things on this planet, humans, plants and wildlife. Water is necessary to all life. Without water, all life dies. All life has the right to clean drinking water, and to use it wisely. No one should own it or abuse it.
Here are additional reasons why bottled water should be avoided:
- The bottles litter our environment: The billions of plastic containers that hold water are littering our landfills for hundreds of years. Contrary to popular belief, only 35% of plastic water bottles are recycled. The rest end up in our landfills.
- They overuse and deplete key watersheds: Coke, Pepsi, Nestlé and others “mine” aquifers of community watersheds for profit and often without regard for local needs. Nestlé, for example, is currently taking 3.6 million litres of groundwater per day in Aberfoyle, Ontario, depleting the nearby community at Mill Creek (Council of Canadians).
- They contribute to climate change: The production and transportation of bottled water produce greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change.
- It’s not as good for you: Also contrary to popular belief, water kept in plastic bottles may be less clean, may accumulate plastic residue and is less regulated than public water.
More on the bottled water dispute:
Nina Munteanu is an ecologist, limnologist and internationally published author of award-nominated speculative novels, short stories and non-fiction. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books.