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'Purest water in the world' featured on TVO's Water Brothers

North Simcoe has 'the cleanest waters on the Earth and we don't know why from a scientific standpoint,' says University of Alberta researcher
TVO's The Water Brothers host Alex Mifflin talks to scientists and citizens around the world's purest water near Elmvale for the episode airing Thursday and Sunday nights.

The purest water in the world, bubbling up to the surface between Waverley and Elmvale, will be featured on episodes of TVO's The Water Brothers on Thursday and Sunday nights.

The episode entitled 'The World's Oldest Water' has hosts Tyler and Alex Mifflin looking into not only the oldest water in the world found near Timmins, but also the purest water and that's right here in northern Simcoe County.

The Alliston aquifer is best known for the drinkable outflow at the Elmvale water kiosk that attracts people from all over the province to fill their water jugs.

Worldwide, groundwater is being depleted and polluted faster than it can recharge, according to the documentary.

Interviewed for the section on the purest water are farm owner Bonnie Pauzé, Dr. William Shotyk and Dr. Michael Powell, researchers from of the University of Alberta, and Elizabeth Brass Elson of the Beausoleil First Nation.

"There are quite a few springs on our property," said Pauzé, who lives on Marshall Road in Tiny Township.

She took the Water Brothers to see water bubbling up to the surface on her property on the area known as French's Hill.

Locals, such as Pauzé have been fighting for water protection in the area for decades. First, it was the fight over Site 41, a proposed landfill site which was eventually turned down. Now aggregate companies that purchased hundreds of acres on French's Hill and have had zoning changed from agricultural to aggregate.

Dufferin Aggregates Teadon Pit (now CRH Canada) on French's Hill used to be 100 acres. Now multiple aggregate companies have purchased 570 more acres in the area. In addition to digging into the valuable soil, under which is the aquifer, aggregate mining requires millions of litres of that world's cleanest water to wash the gravel before it's trucked to the Greater Toronto Area for road building.

"What a lot of people don't know is that a mega-quarry is coming," said Pauzé.

Locals have been fighting the expansion of gravel mining for years, but Pauzé says nobody is listening.

At the same time, scientists Powell and Shotyk have been studying the water source for three years and are seeking funding for a five-year study from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada.

"The purpose of this study is to try to determine why the waters in that area of north Simcoe are as pristine as they are," Powell told MidlandToday. "They are the cleanest waters on the Earth for some components and we don't know why from a scientific standpoint."

Powell said he wants to understand how the different processes of filtration are working and interacting in the surface and subsurface areas of the watershed to produce this very clean water.

"Until we do a study, nobody is going to have the answer to that question," he added. 

The study will answer very important questions about water filtration in the subsurface.

"Our results are meant to describe why this water is becoming so pure."

Two years ago, they placed lysimeters in the soil on French's Hill from Waverley to Elmvale where the water bubbles up to the ground to measure and analyze the water chemistry.

"These areas will be the main focus for the big groundwater study. We will strive to use hydro-geology, trace element geochemistry, isotopic geochemistry, microbiology and all the above combined to determine the biotic and abiotic reasons why this water is so pure," he said.

The study will also involve scientists from the University of Ottawa and the University of Guelph.

Powell made a deputation Dec. 6 to Tay Township to gain support for the water study. He is making the rounds with local councils as the purest water flows directly under the soils of Springwater, Tiny, Tay and Oro-Medonte townships. Powell is also reaching out to Midland, Penetanguishene, Beausoleil First Nation and the County of Simcoe.

The goal is to build a large partnership network, which includes organizations such as the Severn Sound Environmental Association. All of the partners will have input and access to the collected data.

"This will help partners improve the capacity to understand and write policy for managing natural resources and conserving them," Powell said.

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Gisele Winton Sarvis

About the Author: Gisele Winton Sarvis

Gisele Winton Sarvis is an award winning journalist and photographer who has focused on telling the stories of the people of Simcoe County for more than 25 years
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