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Local Directory for Ottawa, ON


Do you drink tap water?

Have you heard that the City of Ottawa intends to spend over a million bucks to encourage us to drink Ottawa’s tap water? Among other things, they’re going to buy two Watermobiles to deliver water to us at festivals and events, and they’re going to make a video about how great our tap water is.

I already drink tap water. I never got sucked into the whole bottled water thing. Why would I spend money on expensive bottled water when tap water is practically free and readily available and much better for the environment?

That being said, I still don’t want to spend a million bucks to convince others to drink tap water. I figure most of us are already drinking tap water, and a “Watermobile” isn’t likely to convince the rest. Maybe we should just ban bottled water altogether.

(If you’re reading this in a feed reader or email, please come over to to vote in the polls.)

27 comments to Do you drink tap water?

  • I live on a well and I have to salt my water before it heads through my pipes. I also have an insane amount of iron coming out of the ground. Because of this we buy 18 litre jugs and use a cooler. This provides a wonderful place for us to stand around and shoot the shit.
    Wait, what was the question……oh yeah, I don’t buy water in small bottles but I hope buying the big one doesn’t get me in too much trouble.

  • I think its money well spent. Plastic bottles are a major issue, and it’s not as if we’ll ever see a return to glass bottles because of shipping expenses. Education is cheap compared to dealing with the long term health/planetary effects of all the plastic being used – endocrine disruptors in those plastic bottles, containers filling landfills. A million dollars on the capital city of Canada (1 dollar per person) and pushing tapwater promotion at tourist events (festivals) sounds like a very good plan.

    I filter my water at home and you’ve seen our reusable metal water bottles, much better for our health and the environment.

    The big corporations like Coca Cola and spending way more than a million dollars convincing the population they need bottled water and making them literally fear tap water….and guess what their dirty little secret is? They’re bottling filtered tapwater in many cases.

  • Oh and I do support plastic taxes where there is a surcharge on buying drinks in “returnable” or plastic single use containers – we have that here. That would pay for this campaign easily. Here in Nova Scotia we pay 10 cents for each drinking box of juice/bottle of water we buy. Then the bottled water users would pay for the campaign.

  • My main source of drinking water is tap water; however, I don’t support a ban on bottled water because it is sometimes necessary (in places where tap water is not drinkable and boiling is difficult or not an option – like last year when we went camping and it poured rain the entire time, making it impossible to start a fire to boil our drinking water.) And when I think of the whole Walkerton fiasco, the thought of having bottled water at least AVAILABLE seems essential.

    Ideally, bottled water would come in returnable glass bottles? I don’t know the solution, but having safe drinking water available in times when that which comes out of the tap is not, is very important to me.

  • reb

    I need to get back in the habit of bringing my water bottle with me. Not sure why I stopped.

  • I’m all for tap water – considering most bottled water comes from a tap anyway.

  • Innana

    While I personally believe bottled water to be a waste of money, insult on the environment, and an over-marketed sham, I really don’t like any move to ban bottled water. I’m a diabetes educator and hear day in, day out, that folks with diabetes battle with healthy choices when eating away from home. If bottled water is banned, what other low-cal choices are available when shopping, at conferences, at festivales? I don’t agree that bottled water should be drank at home, it does provide a healthier-than-soda alternative.

  • I drink tap water, but I do use a Brita filter for anything I’m not using to cook with.

    While I don’t drink bottled water, I still think a total ban would be a bad idea (for the same reasons Meagan stated above). However, I’d be 100% behind special taxation on bottled water. I think a luxury tax and an environmental tax that significantly increase the cost would do a lot of good. I also think that tax should be inversely proportional to the size of the bottle (ex. the single-serving bottles should be taxed more than the 5-gallon fridge dispensers because they produce more waste).

    I honestly think that money would be better spent on recycling incentives.

  • emily

    I think in Toronto they used to bottle the tap water and hand this out for free at events. I don’t think this is a problem, assuming the bottles get recycled. Energy used in transportation was very little, if any (and you have to carry the water somehow). A watermobile seems unnecessary but totally typical of Ottawa.

  • I quite like the water mobile idea at events and festivals. When we head out as a family, we usually bring water, but we often don’t bring enough, or we forget altogether. It would great to be able to get tap water when needed instead of having to buy water bottles.

    We have also noticed recently that there are fewer water fountains around. I would like to see some money spent bringing more of these back.

  • Agreed with you in the water fountains issue, Finiola. One thing which I’ve begun to think about putting together as an urban planner in training is an amenities map for cities that’d show where water fountains, public toilets etc. are clustered.

    But there’s probably already an app for that.

    Then again I simply have to ask…is Calian in the water provision business?

  • Watermobiles? Why can’t festival-goers just, ummm, use taps?

  • Coyote – Because taps simply aren’t available anymore. Take your typical route through the urban landscape, remember any drinking fountains along it? I remembered where they were from childhood in Ottawa, and went looking during my last week there with a water bottle that needed refilling and they are gone!

  • I am blessed where I am with wicked tap water, so I never buy bottled. I have a stainless steel water bottle and a BPA-free plastic one that I keep in the fridge so it’s always cold and portable.

    I seem to recall Ottawa water being decent. I never bought bottled water there because I didn’t think it was necessary.

  • grace

    Mudmama, Here is a link to a presentation done by a then second year Dal University student (okay my niece, I’m very proud of her).

    The university has agreed to upgrade/add water fountains in all of the buildings on campus and to install fountains in all new buildings. I believe other campuses are following suit. While I don’t support a ban, there is a lot we can do to make it more convenient to use tap water.

  • Bottled water is usually just tap water that has been given some trivial additional filtration and then distributed in trucks.

    It is actually less safe than drinking water, since there is far less oversight of bottled water than there is of municipal water supplies. Also, anti-pathogen measures like chlorination can lose their effectiveness after sitting on a shelf for months.

  • lucy

    At home and in my office I never drink bottled water, I only drink tap water. However I wouldn’t support a ban, for the reasons already given by Meaghan, Innana and other commenters here. There are times when bottled water may be the only good option. I buy bottled water if I’m out somewhere and I’m thirsty and don’t really want to drink apple or orange juice (which would be my only other option since I don’t drink soda, ice tea, “fruit” drinks and all the other common bottled beverages). But whenever I buy bottled water I am conscious of the fact that I am wasting my money buying something that is no better and possibly worse than tap water (as already noted by Milan).

    I wish there were more water fountains everywhere.

  • Nat

    I love the idea of a festival-mobile. I know that, like Finola, when go out we are forever running out of water and it’s hard to find waterfountains.

    Education seems cheaps specially if it increases tap water consumption.

  • I am not finicky about my source of water, because I feel fortunate to have water…

  • Leanne

    My drink of choice is tap water, but I would not support an outright ban on bottled water, for the reasons previously mentioned.

    The only time I rely on bottled water is when I travel to developing countries – and then I even use it to brush my teeth. Though I’m so used to turning on the tap to brush my teeth, I need to do something to remind myself to use the bottled water. I generally keep a towel in the sink – that usually does the trick!

  • XUP

    I use tap water with a Brita filter for drinking water. I agree with Milan about the whole bottled water issue. I also agree that we can’t just ban bottled water for many of the reasons already given and also because if we’re going to start banning things that are bad for the environment or for us, there is a long list of things to start with before bottled water. In order to promote drinking tap water, I think the city first needs to re-instill confidence in the quality of our water in general. The river needs to be cleaned up. When we’re surrounded by sewage infested water it’s hard to feel good about drinking from our taps. When that’s done, then they can start a promotional campaign.

  • It seems over 90% of us drink tap water! Yay. And you’ve convinced me that maybe an outright ban might not be such a good idea.

    However. I’m still not sold on the watermobiles. Instead of spending money on vehicles to deliver water to festivals and outdoor events, why not install taps all over the city, including festival locations? That way people could help themselves to water whenever they don’t happen to be wherever the watermobiles happen to be.

  • Arden

    At home I only drink tap water (though I put it into a glass juice bottle, because for some psychological reason I feel the water tastes better from the glass bottle than from a glass…)

    I do think bottled water has a place though, as some places there are no better options, whether because of the lack of city tap water, or because you’re in a big building where the only taps are in gross washrooms and you wouldn’t want to put your own bottle/glass anywhere near them.

    At my father’s cottage they get jugs of local spring water, but I can’t drink the stuff, so then I will buy a case of bottled water. I can also understand people in other cities where although the tap water is safe, it smells and tastes awful. We are really lucky in Ottawa to have really clean good tasting water!

    I think it’s silly for people on the Ottawa water grid to buy bottled water for home, I also think it’s ridiculous for the city to spend so much on trying to encourage tap drinking, as I don’t think it’ll change anyone’s minds one way or the other.

  • Our tap water has a lot of chlorine in it, so I run it through an RO filter before I drink it. Ditto for pets and plants.

  • Em

    At Carleton University, the (free) water fountains in the halls were removed (or they just stopped maintaining them, depending on who you ask) allegedly because of pressure from Aramark (who sells bottled water in their cafeterias). Pretty sleazy. We had to fill our water bottles in the bathrooms.

  • I used to buy the cases of bottled water until I started feeling environmentally guilty. It’s so easy to just grab a bottle and run. I’ve stopped buying the cases but do occasionally still buy bottles when we’re out – for convenience sake. I’ve guilted a lot of people into stopping, but it took a lot of work.
    I know a lot of people who used to say they didn’t like the taste of tap water. Or who had bought into the “bottle water is better water” hype.
    Anyways, all this rambling to say, there seem to be a lot of campaigns like this lately and I don’t think they are a bad idea. I like the idea of paying for it out of an extra plastic tax – but that will take too long to implements.
    Are water fountains disappearing because they aren’t very sanitary?

  • danielle

    One of the organic food store chains (Biocoop) in France has stopped selling bottled water.
    Unfortunately, there are some areas where the water is so contaminated by agricultural chemicals that tap water is undrinkable.