The farm had its own spring. “Gushing out of the ground was this beautiful water,” recalls Shotyk. A cup hung near the spring. “You could drink the water as it came out. I was absolutely fascinated!”
Today, Shotyk is the chair of agriculture and environment at the University of Alberta and one of the world’s leading scientists monitoring trace metals in the environment.
“I study ice cores in the Canadian Arctic,” says Shotyk. “The cleanest layers of ice [are] between 5,000 to 8,000 years old. The water in Elmvale is five times cleaner!”
Scientists thought Elmvale’s water must be ancient to be so pure, but Shotyk discovered something amazing. “This ultra-clean water is actually really young,” he says. Deep below Elmvale lie layers of sand, rocks, clay, and minerals. “As the rain goes through that soil, Mother Nature removes the contaminants. The soil is the key to this water.”
Shotyk links protecting the land with preserving our water and ultimately preserving our health. “If we want to continue to enjoy this water, we have to protect the source area,” he says.
“People take water quality for granted until something happens,” Shotyk warns. Michigan’s Flint water crisis and Canada’s Walkerton water scandal—nearly half the town fell sick—immediately come to mind.
The Elmvale springs are more than just a scientific phenomenon and environmental icon. Clean water like Elmvale’s is the key to unlocking our health potential.