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It’s just regular tap water

The following exchange has been heard many times over coffee or dinner in Lahti. A guest takes a sip of water and says, “That’s good water!”. The host is puzzled: what do you mean “good”? It’s just regular tap water, isn’t it? It doesn't taste like anything.
hanavettä pullossa

Author: Riikka Mäyränpää

But that’s just the thing. In Lahti, water doesn’t taste like anything and has no special smell or colour. That’s the best kind of water. We almost take it for granted, but for visitors, it is often a luxury and a cause of amazement.

In Lahti, we have no shortage of first-rate water literally under our feet. Finland’s most significant groundwater resources are located in the Salpausselkä ridges, with the largest reserves in and around the City of Lahti. For this reason, groundwater plays a major role in practically all activities of the City’s Urban Environment services, from planning land use and municipal engineering to construction and environmental conservation.

Groundwater also brings business to Lahti

The City’s authorities must weigh the impact of operations on groundwater quality and the amount of new groundwater,  as well as whether groundwater poses limitations to development plans. Not all types of business activities can be located in areas that are critical for groundwater. Impurities that have seeped into the groundwater are difficult, if not impossible to remove, and the risk is rarely worth the reward. Fortunately, authorities in Lahti understand this and value the city’s groundwater resources.

It is no coincidence that Lahti is an attractive location for the beverage industry. Hartwall, the largest of the sector’s operators in the city, has a long tradition in the Finnish beverage industry and exports drinks.  A newcomer in the city’s beverage industry is a water bottling plant in Hennala that focuses on export markets. The bottling plant has aroused both enthusiasm and concern, with some asking if Lahti will soon run out of water.

In Lahti, we use only a small portion of the groundwater that could be extracted sustainably. Our groundwater, which is formed by rainwater, is a renewable resource and is at no risk of running out with current extraction volumes. It is up to us to be proud of this resource and ensure that the situation remains the same in the future. The City of Lahti is committed to this task in its strategy and invests a great deal in safeguarding groundwater resources. The soft drinks industry and the Geopark project give all the more reason to continue this work.

Geopark makes water visible

Salpausselkä Geopark in the Lahti region and the UNESCO Global Geopark (UGG) status applied for the park are an excellent opportunity to increase awareness about a groundwater resource that we take nearly for granted but which is globally very valuable.

The theme of the Geopark is water – both the groundwater stored by the Salpausselkä ridge system and other ridges as well as the region’s lakes and rivers. Around the world, our groundwater is a curiosity and a surprising natural tourism attraction: in Lahti, water is right under our feet in the soil. What’s more, it is always renewing itself! Most groundwater is not stored in pores in the soil but is made up of ancient water stored in fractures and cavities in the bedrock.

The next task is to figure out how to make the hidden water visible to tourists. In other words, the Geopark also poses a new challenge to authorities in how we can make groundwater “visible” and portray the topic in a way that allows groundwater and its story to be understood and experienced by everyone. While considering how to best visualise groundwater, we also need to think about the future. In addition to promoting tourism, the Geopark’s mission is to develop environmental education and encourage new research in the region on the park’s theme. What kind of information do we want to tell and teach about groundwater?

Clean groundwater is a valuable natural resource for residents of Lahti and we are proud to be involved in protecting it. So, the next time you are thirsty, enjoy a glass of regular tap water with pride!