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Thirsty For Health? The surprising ways water transforms our wellness

Canada is home to some of the world’s most pristine fresh water. The more we recognize how water keeps every part of our body healthy, the more we can appreciate and protect our access to this vital nutrient.

While Oktoberfest may be winding down, the party is just getting started here in Elmvale, Ontario. “At Oktoberfest, you have to pay for it,” says William Shotyk, “but we have the first festival in human history where you can drink all you want for free all day!” He’s not joking.

Canada’s fountain of youthful water

Shotyk’s organization, the Elmvale Foundation, hosted its 10th annual water festival this month. It all started when Shotyk was a young boy and his parents bought a farm nestled among Elmvale’s lush pastures.

The farm had its own spring. “Gushing out of the ground was this beautiful water,” recalls Shotyk. A cup hung near the spring. “You could drink the water as it came out. I was absolutely fascinated!”

Today, Shotyk is the chair of agriculture and environment at the University of Alberta and one of the world’s leading scientists monitoring trace metals in the environment.

“I study ice cores in the Canadian Arctic,” says Shotyk. “The cleanest layers of ice [are] between 5,000 to 8,000 years old. The water in Elmvale is five times cleaner!”

Scientists thought Elmvale’s water must be ancient to be so pure, but Shotyk discovered something amazing. “This ultra-clean water is actually really young,” he says. Deep below Elmvale lie layers of sand, rocks, clay, and minerals. “As the rain goes through that soil, Mother Nature removes the contaminants. The soil is the key to this water.”

Shotyk links protecting the land with preserving our water and ultimately preserving our health. “If we want to continue to enjoy this water, we have to protect the source area,” he says.

“People take water quality for granted until something happens,” Shotyk warns. Michigan’s Flint water crisis and Canada’s Walkerton water scandal—nearly half the town fell sick—immediately come to mind.


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