Canada is famous for its clean water, but American and Chilean researchers believe they found the cleanest water on earth -more than ten-thousand kilometres away.
Near the town of Puerto Williams, located at the southern tip of Chile, scientists from the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity of the University of Chile, the University of Magallanes and the University of North Texas, sampled and tested what they believe to be earth’s cleanest water.
“Our results confirm that these waters are clean, the cleanest waters existing on the planet,” said Dr. Guido F. Verbeck, the principal investigator and director of the Laboratory of Imaging Mass Spectrometry at the University of North Texas. “In fact, the instruments we use to study the samples can detect chemical compounds in the water up to two parts per million, and here, we did not detect anything.”
The researchers think the unique geography of the region is a factor in the water’s purity.
“So far there are no records of other sites as clean as this, and that has to do with its geographical location, below latitude 55 degrees south, out of the air currents that carry industrial pollutants generated in the northern hemisphere,” said Tamara A. Contador, who worked on the study.
The findings from the U.S. and Chilean researchers contradict those of William Shotyk, Chair in Agriculture and Environment at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences. Shotyk says water tested at the Elmvale Groundwater Observatory, a sampling station near Elmvale, Ontario, which is ninety minutes north of Toronto, is the cleanest on earth.
“The water contains less lead, by at least a factor of five, than the cleanest ice layers from the Arctic,” says Shotyk. The University of Alberta professor notes that the cleanest water on earth is “generally believed to be ancient Arctic ice” because it predates human activity and is atmospheric water that is condensed.
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Shotyk, however, notes that water sampled at Elmvale isn’t 8000 years old or even 5000. In fact, it is less than a century old, he says, pointing out that this was originally rainwater. So what is the secret of Elmvale’s famously clean water? A tremendously efficient soil filtration system that removes all traces of contaminants such as cobalt, chromium, and vanadium from even from what he believes to be the among the unhealthiest sources of H2O.
“It’s the dirtiest rainwater in Ontario’s history,” says Shotyk, who estimates that the cleanest water in the world fell sometime in the middle of the twentieth century when leaded gasoline usage peaked.
“The pure spring water of the Elmvale area has provided a new “reference level” against which other waters may be compared”, wrote Shotyk in a 2008 editorial. “How many people on Earth have the tremendous fortune of water resources of this quality, literally bubbling out of the ground around them? This precious natural resource is cause for celebration, and the ability of the soils to purify the water an opportunity for environmental education.”
Below: Professor William Shotyk talks about the cleanest water on earth…