It’s a constant, valiant and mostly thankless struggle to keep a city’s infrastructure working properly. The only time people notice it is when it fails or is getting replaced. York Road looks like a war zone these days but when it’s finished, it will be a showpiece. In about a month, everyone will marvel at the freshly paved tree lined street with a bike lane that will score a perfect 10 on the Guelph Factor scale. What they won’t see are the tons of new water pipes for both supply and waste below the surface. The only visible change for the sewers will be that each cast iron drain lid has a fish stamped into it. This will hopefully prevent those who are tempted to dump liquid waste down a street grate from doing so, keeping it out of our various bodies of water. If caught, you will immediately be lectured by the first cyclist passing by. This is much more of a deterrent than any ticket the by law can issue after the fact. Be warned.
( The new (now the old) sanitary sewer being installed in Royal City Park, 1962 )
During the recent dig, plenty of old garbage surfaced but thankfully there were no mystery barrels of toxic goo this time around. Old benign glass bottles are a common find, many have surfaced still in tact. You could clean them up and use them again all these years later. It’s an antique pickers dream. When and if the construction team of 50 years from now needs to repair these repairs, the only things they will find from our day are tons of crushed plastic water bottles that the workers have been staying hydrated with throughout the project. All of the potable water supply lines for the street are currently above ground and several well placed valves could very easily supply the crews with thousands of litres of perfectly drinkable water. Municipal water was good enough for the team in 1962. Times change though and it’s far more modern for everyone to get a hit of water in 500ml individual doses that have been marked up of 260,000 percent. No more drinking from the hosepipe like the old timers. Smoking is still perfectly acceptable on the job though, construction is possibly the last career in the nation that allows it.
There are a ton of plastic bottles on the surface of city streets at all times. Several years ago, I saw a pure and natural Nestle bottle in a drain in front of the Trader Joes on East Ontario Street in downtown Chicago. Nestle water bottles are branded differently across North America and in the midwest the equivalent to Pure Life is called Ice Mountain. In New York, it’s called Poland Spring. The bottle I found was definitely Wellington county issue, probably dropped by an errant tourist who took the time to lug it 800 km to the Windy City. They may not have been aware that regional overpriced water is available from coast to coast. It’s all about the branding. Nestle describes their Tuscan sourced Acqua Panna as having a “smooth and velvety taste” as if it was a can of Guinness. Gerber water is “specially developed for babies”. Levissima water comes from “protected and untouched Alpine mountain peaks”. They can craft all the lovely poetic descriptions they like but one thing is clear. It’s water in a bottle. Unless you have the pallet of a sommelier or a nose like a bloodhound, it doesn’t matter. At all.
It does matter if your groundwater fed city is in a drought situation though. How is it possible that this town could be Code Red for water use, that every lawn looks like a Shreddie and nearly all plant life is sad and wilting yet the skid loads of water keep on shipping? You can get a twelve pack of Pure Life Natural Spring Water for 99 cents at Food Basics this week until Wednesday if you are so inclined. What a deal! Keep your head up though; if you drop an empty plastic bottle into the road there is an army of bike riding pinkos on standby who will find you and give you a gentle reminder about bottled vs tap. Save yourself the trouble and get a nice half litre stainless steel traveller instead. Even with the recent rate increase, it will cost you 0.0795 of a cent to fill it at home. Without question, that is the best deal in town.
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