Spring of life

It seems that drinking water stories find me, even on vacation.

I’m in Lahti, Finland, where my wife is competing in Ironman 70.3 Worlds. It seems that drinking water stories follow me everywhere. This was in her gear bag, and I couldn’t resist sharing it.

It’s great that instead of selling bottled water, they have the local municipally owned water company promote refilling bottles with tap water.

The QR code leads to a great video explaining everything from how the aquifer was formed to waste water treatment. It’s impressive! I believe we might have one subscriber who will be able to understand the Finnish audio (you know who you are). The rest of you, turn the volume down and enjoy the captions.

I was struck by the similarities and differences between the drinking water infrastructure around Lahti and my home of Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington.

LahtiAqua’s service area is about 200 square miles, about the same as Island County.

The population served in 120,000. Island County’s population is about 85,000.

LahtiAqua serves its population with 50 wells in four well fields. Island County in contrast is served by:

  • 293 “Group A” (15 or more connections) water systems serving 69000 people

  • 585 “Group B” (3-14 connections) serving 5000 people

  • 850 two-party (2 connections) systems, serving about 2000 people

  • 8500 private wells serving about 20,000 people

LahtiAqua’s distribution system consists of 1000 km of pipe, about the same as Island County’s road length of 600 miles.

Most people in LahtiAqua’s service area are on their sewer system. Most residents of Island County are on septic systems.

Both areas use primarily groundwater drawn from aquifers in glacial till. LahtiAqua strictly protects its aquifer recharge area. Island County’s protections are weaker.

Also, I discovered that Finland banned PFAS in firefighting foam in 2011! We didn’t start looking at PFAS in groundwater until 2016, and we’re just finding out the extent of the problem now.

How is drinking water where you live? Let me know in the comments!

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