Do you know where your drinking water comes from? That is a question that I didn’t know the answer to a year ago, even though I have lived in the same city for 10 years now. I knew who managed the water and sent out the utility bills for it (my city, until recently, now a municipal water authority) but I wasn’t sure whether the water was coming from the river that I can see from my window or if there was some reservoir somewhere supplying us with the water. For someone in the environmental community to not know this didn’t bode well for the rest of the public knowing the answer.
Why does it matter that people know where their water comes from? If you know where it comes from I think you can better appreciate it and will be better aware of the potential threats to the water supply. If your water came from XYZ River and then you hear about a spill in said river, well then you would be concerned, right? But if you had no clue that your drinking water came from XYZ River than you might not bat an eyelash over it. Thinking that drinking water just comes from the tap, that it’s always there and always will be, in a clean manner, is foolish but not uncommon. In the Northeast, we are spoiled with a very reliable source of drinking water.
My city’s water comes from a man-made reservoir about 20 miles upstream. The city owns 12 acres of watershed around the lake, helping to protect it from pollution, erosion and other nasty things that we don’t want in our drinking water. The water travels via gravity through pipes to a treatment plant, then on to holding tanks located under a park, then on to the city. Then I can turn on my tap and drink the award-winning water. So simple, yet so complex.
Other people outside of the city get their water from a national water company, which takes water from the nearby river, treats it, then sends it out to tens of thousands of homes and businesses. While there’s nothing wrong with drinking that river’s (treated) water, I am a bit glad to know my drinking water is coming from further outside the developed area of our city. Call me a water snob, I guess.
Regardless of where your drinking water comes from, it is important for you to know the source. Look up that information and share it with those you know. An educated consumer (yes, we are consumers of the water, even if we can’t really shop around for where we get our tap water, unless of course we move) is a better consumer.