Last night I went to a potluck at Shannon’s and a really interesting topic came up. You see, Shannon is a hydrologist and works for a consulting company that does a lot of work analysing water quality. Someone asked her what she thought of the boil water advisory – the real deal. Her answer kind of surprised me. I suspected people were blowing the whole thing out of proportion, but she suggested that the reason for the prolonged, widespread boil-water advisory was to drum up public support for a hugely expensive $600-million water treatment plant they just started constructing on the North Shore. You see, the water plant is going to be the biggest in Canada and public sentiment seemed to suggest it was a waste of money considering how good the water is here. But now with the current “crisis” it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

Some things to consider: The boil water advisory in Vancouver, now in its fifth day, is the largest boil water advisory in Canadian history. For the first 2 days, 2 million people were affected. And since then, close to 1 million people have been encouraged to boil their water or buy bottled water. And yet, during that time the water has never been discovered to be contaminated and not a single person has been reported ill. That’s pretty amazing. The only thing the water people have reported is an “increased risk” of contamination because of “high turbidity” – basically dirt in the water. Yes, the water tastes a bit funny, but Shannon seemed to think it was fine. She tests water for a living, I trust her. She’s been drinking it the whole time and using it to brush her teeth.

I just thought that was really interesting. Today CBC ran an article about the over-cautiousnesses, and the Vancouver Sun had an article about the new water plant.

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