Where to fill up your water bottle for free in the Kawarthas

GreenUp's BlueW program promotes safe and environmentally friendly municipal tap water

GreenUP Water Programs Coordinator Jenn McCallum places a BlueW Ptbo decal in the window at Black Honey Café on Hunter Street in downtown Peterborough. Look for the decal across the Kawarthas at businesses and public service buildings, marking them as destinations for re-filling up your reusable water bottle for free, or check bluewptbo.ca for a full listing. (Photo: Karen Halley / GreenUP)
GreenUP Water Programs Coordinator Jenn McCallum places a BlueW Ptbo decal in the window at Black Honey Café on Hunter Street in downtown Peterborough. Look for the decal across the Kawarthas at businesses and public service buildings, marking them as destinations for re-filling up your reusable water bottle for free, or check bluewptbo.ca for a full listing. (Photo: Karen Halley / GreenUP)

Have you ever been out and about on a hot summer day, only to find out that your water bottle is empty? If so, you will want to tap into the GreenUP BlueW Ptbo program!

BlueW Ptbo is an online map that shows you where you can find clean, free, public and commercial water sources to fill your reusable bottle at no cost, and with no expectation that you will buy anything. The map at bluewptbo.ca helps you to discover the local businesses and public service buildings that are participating in BlueW Ptbo.

You can also look for the BlueW decal in the windows of participating businesses.

Currently, there are 78 registered taps marked on the BlueW Peterborough map. Participating businesses are located throughout the Peterborough, Northumberland, and City of Kawartha Lakes region, and include Curve Lake, Hiawatha, and Alderville First Nations. Public libraries, parks, recreational facilities, and privately owned businesses are all mapped options for drinking water refills.

Participating businesses with the BlueW Ptbo decal will allow you to fill up your water bottle with municipal tap water at no cost and with no obligation to buy anything. (Graphic: BlueW Ptbo)
Participating businesses with the BlueW Ptbo decal will allow you to fill up your water bottle with municipal tap water at no cost and with no obligation to buy anything. (Graphic: BlueW Ptbo)
“I like to be part of a program that educates and informs,” says Lisa Dixon, owner of Black Honey Café in downtown Peterborough, “We are happy to offer a water bottle refill, and also encourage tap water to guests as they are seated.”

BlueW Ptbo is part of BlueW, an initiative that aims to provide free tap water wherever you are. This unique community-based program is dedicated to promoting municipal tap water as a healthy, easily accessible alternative to purchasing bottled drinks.

Evan Pilkington is the founder and managing director of BlueW.org program, which he launched in 2012.

“The goal of the BlueW is to promote access to drinking water, and to help people make better, healthier beverage choices,” Pilkington says. “The service that BlueW provides is in creating a dialogue between the water provider [municipalities], and the community that they provide water to.”

Since its inception, BlueW.org has expanded throughout North America, with over 26,000 businesses now listed for water refilling.

In 2016, GreenUP initiated the BlueW program in Peterborough through funding from the Healthy Kids Community Challenge, as part of its effort to promote drinking water over other — often sugary — beverage options. Currently, GreenUP delivers BlueW Ptbo through support from the Peterborough Utilities Group, promoting municipal tap water as a healthy and readily available source of drinking water.

“Since 1914 Peterborough Utilities has been providing safe, reliable, and consistently high-quality water from source to tap,” explains David Whitehouse, Vice-President Customer/Corporate Services and Conservation Officer at Peterborough Utilities Group. “When you find yourself away from your home tap, BlueW Ptbo can help you access tap water from other places around the city, maintaining a constant flow of refreshing and cold tap water even when your water bottle is empty.”

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In the City of Peterborough, our municipal tap water comes from the Otonabee River — and is thoroughly treated before it reaches our taps, according to John Armour, Water Quality Specialist at the Water Treatment Plant.

“In addition to continual on-line monitoring throughout the drinking water treatment process, there are approximately 20,000 individual tests performed annually [to ensure that] Peterborough produces water that meets all Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards as outlined under Ontario Regulations 169/03.”

These 20,000 tests amount to one test every 30 minutes, and ensure that our drinking water is safe and healthy to drink.

In contrast, bottled water is regulated according to the Food and Drug Act, which has different standards and requirements and it is tested much less frequently. Water bottling plants are usually only inspected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency once every three to five years. When you consider that bottled water can cost up to 2,000 times the price of tap water, it seems like an unworthy expense.

Furthermore, it takes three litres of water and a quarter litre of fossil fuels to produce a single litre of bottled water, which is an intensive use of our natural resources. Many plastic water bottles end up in our landfills, or as litter in our forests and waterways, while very few make it to the recycling plant. Therefore, choosing to drink tap water in a reusable bottle is a better option for your health, your wallet, and for the environment.

The GreenUP store in downtown Peterborough carries a wide range of refillable water bottles  of different sizes, shapes, and colours. (Photo: Peterborough GreenUP)
The GreenUP store in downtown Peterborough carries a wide range of refillable water bottles of different sizes, shapes, and colours. (Photo: Peterborough GreenUP)

To learn which businesses and public service buildings will refill your water bottle for free, check out bluewptbo.ca and look for the BlueW decal in business windows.

We also have giveaway name tag stickers to help prevent you from losing your water bottle when you’re on the go! For more information about the program, contact Jenn McCallum, GreenUP Water Programs Coordinator, at jenn.mccallum@greenup.on.ca or by calling 705.745.3238 ext. 208.

If you would like to purchase a water bottle to take part in the BlueW program, check out the options at the GreenUP Store, which include S’Well, Kleen Kanteen, and Vapur water bottles of different sizes, shapes, and colours. S’Well and Kleen Kanteen bottles will keep your water cold for you for hours! For more information, stop by the GreenUP Store at 378 Aylmer Street North, between Simcoe and Hunter Streets.

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