In the summer time, when the weather is hot…

Hydration stations offer clean drinking water in key locations

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CENTRAL PARK

NORTH END

WEST BROADWAY

Hydration stations connected to fire hydrants, such as this one at Central Park, are being tested this summer at key locations in Winnipeg.

Summers in the city bring people outdoors but finding ways to beat the scorching heat can be very challenging for many. As temperatures rise, stretches of relentless heat can lead to energy depletion and heat-related illness.

The City of Winnipeg has found a way to help by installing three hydration stations around town. Part of a pilot project, the stations are located at Central Park (near 406 Edmonton St.), Selkirk Avenue at Powers Street (near 469 Selkirk Ave., at the Bell Tower), and the Broadway Neighbourhood Centre (near 185 Young St).

With the push of a button, the stations have offered 24-hour access to clean drinking water since the end of June. They’ll be available throughout the summer and removed prior to freeze-up.

“Sustained exposure to heat can cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and even death, so providing access to clean drinking water is a key part of our heat response planning,” said Lisa Gilmour, the City’s emergency management co-ordinator, adding that the hydration station locations were selected based on need and past experience.

“We know some of our residents, particularly our unsheltered population, may have more difficulty accessing clean water,” Gilmour said. “The hydration stations address some of that critical need, while also recognizing that anyone can find themselves overheated and out of water on a hot day.

“During previous summers, we installed portable water tank trailers in key areas. Since the hydration stations are connected to fire hydrants, they eliminate the need for refilling. In the event of an emergency, crews can quickly access the water supply by shutting off the hydrant’s water valve, connecting their hoses, and re-opening the valve.”

The initiative is a collaboration between the office of emergency management and the city’s water and waste and community services departments, along with community partners.

Locations were chosen to serve areas where it’s hardest to access clean drinking water. Gilmour noted logistical consideration meant that systems should not be next to busy streets, not too close to curbs and not in front of businesses with foot traffic.

Genet Kassaye was pleasantly surprised to learn of the water hydration system installation in Central Park. The long-time area resident thinks it will be a much-appreciated, convenient and practical resource for those who get together there during the warmer months.

“Of course it will be really useful for the people who spend time at the park mostly to socialize and also for the youth playing soccer in the summer. Elderly newcomers often meet there as well,” Kassaye said.

Feedback from community members has been positive, Gilmour said, with questions about where the systems came from, and people asking how they can get one.

“Everybody who has tried it says they’re easy to use, it’s the same drinking water you’d get from the kitchen tap.

“I think they are a great opportunity to combat the extreme heat we’ve been having, to help people stay healthy,” said Gilmour, adding that the project will be evaluated and may expand in future years.

Janine LeGal

Janine LeGal
St. Boniface community correspondent

Janine LeGal is a community correspondent for St. Boniface who also writes the These Old Houses column for our Community Homes section.

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