For many who live in the urban areas of our province, B.C.’s Drinking Water Week is just another proclaimed “week” that highlights yet another cause or issue, adding to the already long list of “weeks” and “days” that take up virtually every date on our calendar.
But here in the Columbia Valley, Drinking Water Week carries some serious significance, as many of us who live here grapple with issues around our drinking water in one way or another.
As Steve Hubrecht points out in his article “Drinking water week a hot topic locally”, one would think, given the number of snow-covered peaks and pristine lakes and rivers in this region, that the drinking water we all consume would be sparkling clean and tasty to boot. But the reality is much different.
Many of the valley’s communities are either erratically or permanently on a water advisory notice, and upgrades to their drinking water systems are cost-prohibitive. Provincial grants remain unused and officials are seeking viable options for these funds before the money is taken off the table despite ever-changing expiration dates. Then we have the infamous water situation in Invermere whereby it meets health standards but its taste incurs the wrath and contempt of both visitors and locals alike.
Long story short, delicious potable water has become a valuable commodity and, short of air, it’s one we need the most to stay, not only healthy, but alive. Just as we’ve witnessed changing community values around food security in recent years (locally, with the approval of a local mini-abattoir), the state of our drinking water is becoming increasingly more important, particularly given the issue of aging infrastructure in many of B.C.’s small communities . The laws have already changed to reflect this. It’s unfortunate that the Columbia Valley is struggling to keep up.