Water already cost more than oil.
And Paul Sheridan thinks the next world war will be fought over it.
It’s worth more than gold, said the Yukon Spring owner, a glass of the pure stuff by his side.
“By 2025 it will set the monetary standard of the world,” he predicted.
Sheridan began bottling water in 1988, after discovering that his spring was the purest in western Canada.
And over the years, he’s become a local water guru.
There are some big issues out there, he said. The water tables are dropping; two-thirds of the world is without potable water; the US may soon have unlimited access to Canada’s supply and Canada is already the biggest consumer of sanitized water in the world.
“We flush our toilets with sanitized water, we water our lawns with it and wash our cars,” said Sheridan.
That wouldn’t happen in Africa.
Those are the big issues.
But Sheridan isn’t overly worried about them.
He’s got more immediate concerns.
Like water coolers.
“Coolers are going to be the next major health issue,” he said.
People don’t clean them.
They assume they are sanitary, he said.
“But many are actually full of this green snot.”
The “green snot” is algae and bacteria, said Sheridan.
And bacteria likes to breed where it’s dark and wet.
A couple of weeks ago, Sheridan’s partner Marie Aubertin walked into a restaurant and went to fill up a glass of water.
“Then I took one look at the cooler, which was filthy, and stopped,” she said.
“If it looks like that on the outside; I can’t imagine what the inside looks like.”
And people never think to blame the cooler, she said.
“If I drank that water, I probably would’ve gotten diarrhea,” said Aubertin.
“And if I hadn’t known what I do about coolers, I probably would have blamed the food or the water itself.”
Most water coolers don’t filter the air that’s sucked in when the cooler bubbles, added Sheridan.
“So, if someone coughs when they’re filling up a glass of water, all those germs go straight into the cooler.”
And coolers aren’t monitored by any federal food regulations, he said.
The bottled water industry has regulations, but many companies fail to follow them, added Sheridan.
“Bottled water is supposed to be part of the food industry,” he said.
“But sometimes I wonder about the packaging laws.
“I think a lot of the info on the labels is lies.”
Many bottled water companies just fill up from municipal supplies, said Sheridan.
“But I’ve never seen a label that says, ‘Bottled using municipal supply.’”
Yukon Springs currently fills about 100 water jugs a day and supplies more than 400 Yukon homes and businesses with coolers.
“Our coolers are regularly serviced and have air filters,” said Sheridan.
But clean coolers don’t solve all the bacteria problems.
The refillable water jugs coolers use also need to be sanitized, he said.
“I’ve had 20-litre jugs come back with diesel fuel in them, oil, dead flies …
“People leave them floating around in the bottom of their boats, then they use them again.”
In his small water-bottling plant, Sheridan pointed out the sink where the water jugs are sanitized before refilling.
“When people refill at other supplies, the bottles usually aren’t sanitized, and could be holding all kinds of bacteria,” he said.
“People take them camping, fishing and hunting, and they keep refilling them — and God knows what’s inside them,” he said.
The public needs to be more aware, said Sheridan.
“If something happens, the immediate response is to blame the water, but it’s usually not the water, it’s the dispenser.
“And I’m amazed the government, who makes all the rules and regulations, hasn’t done anything to inform the public.”