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Montreal chapter joins with Eau Secours! for ‘water taste test challenge’ at school in Châteauguay

The Council of Canadians Montreal chapter participated in a ‘Water Taste Test Challenge’ at a school in Châteauguay on April 21.

Chapter activist Abdul Pirani tells us, “As part of the various environmental activities to celebrate Earth Day with 1500 students at Louis Philippe Secondary School, I participated with Eau Secours! (the Quebec coalition for responsible water management) to do an interesting test  to differentiate between school tap water and bottled water.”

Harvard University has explained:

In an effort to raise awareness about bottled water consumption and water scarcity issues, try hosting a blind taste test of various waters to demonstrate how typical perceptions of bottled water v. tap might not always hold true.

1- Set up a table in an area with heavy foot traffic.  Have three pre-assembled and numbered water jugs, 1.) local tap water 2.) grocery store brand bottled water and 3.) high end “designer” bottled water, on your table along with facts and local water information. Be sure to serve all of the water at the same temperature.

2- Strike up a conversation. Introduce yourself. “Do you drink bottled water? Do you have a favorite brand? Do you think you can tell the difference between tap and bottled water?”

3- Provide a Dixie cup and have participants test all three waters. On a sheet with numbers that correspond with the jugs, have participants fill in their guesses. Check their answers. If they get it right, switch the numbers and have them try it again to see if they were just lucky or could actually taste the difference.

4- Track your participants’ responses. This activity is great to pair with a raffle—taking the challenge is an entry into the raffle—or with a movie screening of Tapped or Flow. Have participants take the challenge, screen the film and check answers, at the end reveal the waters and award reusable water bottles to participants.

5- Share your results—post the number of right and wrong guesses along with some water facts such as source information to continue to encourage change beyond event.

Similar taste tests have shown that most people generally cannot differentiate between bottled water and tap water.

Nestlé Pure Life brand bottled water from Aberfoyle, Ontario has been traced thousands of kilometres across the country by the Council of Canadians. It was found in Montreal (605 kilometres from the watershed where it was extracted) and as far away as 3,147 kilometres in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Nestlé is seeking to renew its permit to extract 3.6 million litres of water a day from the well in Aberfoyle. That permit expired on July 31, 2016, but Nestlé has been allowed to continue to extract water while the Ontario government has reviewed its regulations on the bottled water industry.

The provincial government has now decided to make modest tweaks to its regulations – a two year pause on new permits (rather than a permanent moratorium), limiting renewable permits to 5 years (rather than phasing out bottled water operations), and increasing notification and consultation (rather than recognizing the right to free, prior and informed consent for affected Indigenous peoples and communities).

To sign our pledge to Boycott Nestle bottled water, please click here.