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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

The “Water Challenge” — Taste the Difference!

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In conjunction with Spacing‘s next issue, whose theme will be “water,” Spacing contributor Sean Lerner will be conducting a public blind taste test of different waters this Saturday. You’ll be able to sample a selection of municipal tap waters and bottled waters — but you won’t know which is which. What water will you pick? Find out this weekend:

The Water Challenge
Saturday, April 14
Noon-1:30 pm (subject to change if there’s rain)
Alexander the Great Parkette
Danforth and Logan
(Two blocks west east of Chester subway station)

If the time or date is changed because of rain, the change will be posted here.



  1. haha, this is great. we once tried to do a “free water” stand at dundas square in 2005 and were promptly asked to leave.

    i will totally hit this up if i’m not sleeping, which means i will probably still be awake from the night before (which means i could definitely use some water)

  2. Water and Women of Action
    A Teach-In on the Sacred Rights of Water

    Overwhelmed by the broad implications of massive forces that are devastating our planet, the public is beginning to ask what practical steps can be taken to ensure a sustainable and manageable way of living. Responding to this concern, The Transformative Learning Centre at the University of Toronto, in collaboration with the Phoenix Community Works Foundation, is proud to bring together four of the most powerful and articulate woman activists in the world today:

    Maude Barlow
    Vanada Shiva
    Moema Viezzer

    Sunday, April 22, 2007 (3-5pm)
    Ontario Insitute for Studies in Eduation – Auditorium, Ground Floor
    252 Bloor St. West, Toronto

    Tickets: 15$ Available at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore, 73 Harbord St, or at the door – space permitting.

    This is the Closing Event for Spirit Matters 2007: One Earth Community. April 20-22, 2007. The Gathering registration ends April 13th.

  3. Awesome!

    I am so tired of people spending so much money on bottled water, because they are afraid of tap water.
    It’s time to put them in their place.

  4. D’oh – thanks for spotting my mixup, Kevin.

  5. “I am so tired of people spending so much money on bottled water, because they are afraid of tap water.”

    When you drink Dasani or Aquafina, that is exactly what you get – Region of Peel tap water, just “demineralized”, packaged and marked-up. Coke and Pepsi have their main bottling plants in Brampton and Mississauga.

    So if anyone gives you that line drinking one of those two brands, give them the awful truth.

  6. One of my few complaints about product availability in Toronto is the absence of Poland Spring. Legitimate spring water from Maine, and definitely the best I have ever tasted.

  7. I wish the city would stop putting fluoride in the water – its basically free dumping for industrial waste. Its controversial if it really helps with cavities or not, but if it does we should be getting it through toothpaste we apply directly through teeth and can control the dose rather than water where we are being drugged involuntarily. That’s the only reason I buy bottled water- but only natural spring water – and only in returnable reusable 18L jugs, single serving water is a complete resource waste.

  8. Tanya,

    I used to work as a chemist at a municipal water treatment plant and the fluoride concentration in water was never more than 1 mg/L or 1 ppm. Hardly a dumping ground. In fact, the fluoride injecting tank was a tiny thing when you considered the millions of litres of water we pumped into the city every day.

    The Ontario Ministry of Environment mandated that we test for over 200 different chemicals, many of them phenol derivatives of pesticides that may have run off into the river anywhere in the watershed and all from various different points in the distribution system.

    Bottled water is an even bigger scam than those diet pills. They ought to sell the stuff on infomercials.

    I heard they once ran a blind taste test of mineral water in Europe and Alka Seltzer came in third.

  9. I did a similar challenge at PS Kensington two years ago. You can read about it at

    I focused on the impact of bottled water on public health. “Can you taste the diesel fumes from the trucks that deliver it? Can you taste the blood from the oil wars that keep the oil cheap to make the plastic bottles?” This kind of thing.

    Also, delivery of water to the masses has worked with plumbing for thousands of years, now suddenly it’s delivered by trucks in single serving bottles. How uncivilized.


    ps. Sean, maybe you’d like to come and do your taste test at the Earth Day event on April 22 on John St. We’re closing, (or shall we say opening) John St. from Queen to Adelaide from 2pm – 6pm.
    Your taste test would be perfectly suited to the event.



  10. they have a taste test at the ontario science centre pitting tap water against a couple varieties of bottled water, and they keep a running total of votes. last i saw, tap water was comfortably in the lead.

  11. the science centre test also includes distilled water and filtered tap water

  12. hey folks,

    thanks for coming out.

    MJ — I’ll have to respectively decline the earth day offer.

    Jeeff/Chris — I’ll contact the science centre and try to include their insights into my article.

  13. If you’re concerned about flouride exposure due to our water supply, you could always use a flouride-free toothpaste to reduce your overall exposure. As noted above, flouride to prevent tooth decay is controversial to say the least, some interesting reading here:
    To be honest, since I started using natural, flouride free toothpastes, I have had less issues (gum bleeding, sensitivity, etc) with my teeth, but that could also be due to an overall reduction of environmental toxins and food additives by following a wholesome, whole food diet as much as possible! 🙂 What you take into your body, becomes your body.

  14. Cordelia, all the concern about fluoride I’ve heard has been around the notion that application TO the teeth is beneficial, while ingestion is harmful… so your suggestion wouldn’t help in that case.