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Retired reporter flags threats to region's drinking water supply in new book

Bob Burtt's book, 'Water, Our Sacred Trust' is now available at some independent bookstores
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The view of the Grand River from the Old Post Office Idea Exchange in downtown Galt.

Local author, Bob Burtt has released a new book, Water, Our Sacred Trust and the title says it all. 

"Water is the source of all life. But, if we ignore it or abuse it, it can come back, cause death or serious illness," he said.

Burtt knows a lot about water.

"I worked at the Record as a reporter for about 24 years. Most of that time, I covered environmental issues and often at the top of our list would've been water stories. There would've been stories about water contamination and water shortages," he explained. 

The book started as a history of water supply going all the way back to ancient Rome.

It led to a look at sources of water in Waterloo Region, then morphed into a cautionary tale about being careful with what you have and a need to protect it.

"We have to look at what happened in Walkerton. We have to look at what happened in Elmira. Both of those communities had their water supplies lost and of course, in Walkerton, some people died. Thousands were left ill," Burtt said.

He noted Waterloo Region is facing threats to its water supply, particularly with ground salt.

"The problem is, the more we develop, the bigger the problem gets. We use a lot of salt to soften water and then we use a lot of salt to melt ice and snow on the roads. That's a huge problem," Burtt said.

He is also concerned about the impact of climate change on the Grand River.

But, Water, Our Sacred Trust also covers the fight between a citizens group in Wellington County and Nestle Waters over the right to use and bottle the all-important liquid.

Burtt said it was an entirely different experience process writing his book rather than for a newspaper.

"Here you have a chance to go to the archives, really shake the story loose, think it and rethink it," he said.

Water, Our Sacred Trust can be found at independent bookstores in Waterloo, Guelph, Cambridge's Galt area, Preston Home Hardware, and the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum.

Burtt has also written two other books about the environment.