Scientist raises alarm about threat to world’s cleanest water
News release from Georgian Bay Today
The cleanest water in the world is under threat. Scientist William Shotyk is worried.
Shotyk, the Bocock Chair for Agriculture and Environment at the University of Alberta, is featured in the current issue of Georgian Bay Today (Winter 2018/19 #123).
It’s been almost 30 years since Shotyk started testing the water from the artesian springs of the area of his family farm near the Simcoe Uplands area north of Barrie. Since then, he and others in laboratories around the world have come up with continually astonishingly clean results, on a wide variety of parameters, and have used it as the ‘reference’ water in numerous studies.
“The groundwater in Elmvale has become the ‘gold’ standard for water quality,” Shotyk writes in Georgian Bay Today, in a special issue focused on water.
“Our spring water is a mystery,” he adds. A team of scientists intent on unravelling the mystery of this pristine water is being assembled by leading hydrogeologist John Cherry, Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph.
But Shotyk is getting frustrated. The water was important enough for local residents, First Nations and cottagers to fight an ultimately successful battle to stop construction of a landfill site. He started the Elmvale Water Festival to celebrate it (www.elmvale.org). He has made presentations to explain its uniqueness to several local councils.
But still, there is no plan to protect this remarkable water. Could it be gone before we can even begin to understand it?
“With the aggregate companies chipping away at the hills to the east of Elmvale, including the forest and farmlands, removing the rich soils that filter the water, the source waters are being threatened.” Another battle is looming!
Shotyk wonders, “if this is the cleanest groundwater on earth, and if water is our most precious natural resource, why is it so difficult to convince our political leaders to protect it for future generations?”
Georgian Bay Today is a quarterly publication with emphasis on Nature and Culture. Also featured in the Water Issue is ‘Water Warrior’ Autumn Peltier, 14, of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island, whose powerful message about water protection has attracted international attention.