RBC Blue Water Project: $2.3 Million in Funding Announced

via PR Newswire:  2013 RBC Blue Water Project Leadership and Community Action Grants announced

June 14, 2013

RBC awards $2.3 million in funding to protect water in cities and towns around the globe

TORONTO-RBC today announced the recipients of the 2013 RBC Blue Water Project Leadership and Community Action Grants, totalling more than $2.3 million in funding for water protection and preservation programs. Awarded on the fourth annual RBC Blue Water Day, the grants support 123 organizations spanning seven countries, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, Jamaica and Turks and Caicos Islands.

“Water is the lifeblood of our planet and vital for our social and economic wellbeing,” said Gord Nixon, president and CEO, RBC. “Since the RBC Blue Water Project was established in 2007, we have committed more than $38 million in grants to some 650 organizations around the world working to protect our most precious natural resource, including the grants we’re announcing today. We are honoured to support the important efforts of this year’s grant recipients, whose projects reflect our new focus on urban water issues.”

In December 2012, the RBC Blue Water Project announced a shift in focus to address a significant, emerging issue that is relevant to the majority of RBC employees and clients – protecting and preserving water in towns, cities and urbanized areas. The 2013-2014 Leadership and Community Action Grants are funding programs that improve urban water quality and efficient use, enhance storm water management and protect and restore urban waterways.

“By 2050, three quarters of the world’s population will live in cities,” explained Alexandra Cousteau, RBC Blue Water Project Ambassador and National Geographic Emerging Explorer. “With more people, our urban water resources will become even more strained than they are today. The 2013 RBC Blue Water Project Leadership and Community Action Grant recipients are working to solve some of the most critical water issues facing our growing communities and helping to ensure we have the clean water we need for the future.”

Continue reading


CNW: 2013 Recipients of Excellence in Water Stewardship Award

Via: Canada Newswire, March 22, 2013

Council of the Federation Announces First-ever Recipients of Excellence in Water Stewardship Award

OTTAWA, March 22, 2013 /CNW/ – On the occasion of World Water Day, the Council of the Federation (COF) announced today the recipients of the Excellence in Water Stewardship Award. The award recognizes outstanding achievement, innovative practice and leadership in the area of water stewardship. This award is presented to organizations, partnerships, businesses, institutions, and community groups in each province and territory across Canada.

Stemming from the Water Charter, adopted by Premiers in August 2010, Premiers have established this new award in recognition that water is critical to human and ecosystem health. A sustainable water supply ensures our communities are liveable and economically viable whether they are large urban centres or remote or rural communities.

“On behalf of all Premiers, I want to congratulate the first-ever recipients of the Council of the Federation Excellence in Water Stewardship Award,” said Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, Chair of the Council of the Federation. “These awards are an important mechanism for change as they bring deserved recognition to the champions of water stewardship and inspire all Canadians to take action.”

The recipients of the 2013 Council of the Federation Excellence in Water Stewardship Award are:

Alberta Urban Municipalities Association – Alberta
Okanagan Water Stewardship Council – British Columbia
Lake Winnipeg Foundation – Manitoba
City of Moncton Automated Water Meter Reading Project – New Brunswick
Atlantic Coastal Action Plan (ACAP) Humber Arm – Newfoundland and Labrador
Sambaa K’e Dene Band – Northwest Territories
Clean Annapolis River Project – Nova Scotia
Centre for Water Resources Studies – Nunavut
City of Kitchener Impervious-area Based Stormwater Utility and Credit Policy – Ontario
Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association – Prince Edward Island
Regroupement pour la protection du Grand lac Saint-François – Québec
Lower Souris Watershed Committee Inc. – Saskatchewan
Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council – Yukon

Each recipient receives a glass award, a monetary prize and a certificate signed by the Premier of their province or territory.

Further information about the Excellence in Water Stewardship Awards can be found at http://www.councilofthefederation.ca.

Continue reading

ESTJ: Land and Water Impacts of Oil Sands Production in Alberta

Land and Water Impacts of Oil Sands Production in Alberta

Sarah M. Jordaan
Energy Technology Innovation Policy Research Group, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, 20 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, United States IN Environ. Sci. Technol., 2012, 46 (7), pp 3611–3617
Publication Date (Web): February 24, 2012


Expansion of oil sands development results not only in the release of greenhouse gas emissions, but also impacts land and water resources. Though less discussed internationally due to to their inherently local nature, land and water impacts can be severe. Research in key areas is needed to manage oil sands operations effectively; including improved monitoring of ground and surface water quality. The resulting information gap means that such impacts are not well understood. Improved analyses of oil sands products are required that compare land and water use with other transportation fuel pathways and use a regional perspective so local effects can be considered and mitigated.

Land and Water Impacts of Oil Sands Technologies

1 How Different Are the Impacts of Oil Sands Extraction Technologies?

Bitumen is extracted from the oil sands using two technologies, surface mining or in situ recovery, each of which have different land and water impacts. Surface mining techniques remove shallow depth oil sand deposits by truck and shovel and extract the bitumen with the Clarke hot water extraction process by mixing the oil sand with water warmed using natural gas.(11) In situ technology is predominantly used for extracting deeper deposits. Thermal in situ technologies use natural gas to produce steam that is subsequently injected to reduce the viscosity of the bitumen so that it can be pumped to the surface using production wells. It is understood that oil sands technologies produce 10–20% more greenhouse gases than the average conventional fuel when calculating life cycle emissions from well to wheel,(4) yet much less emphasis has been placed on quantifying water and land impacts.

Land use of surface mining is comprised largely of polygonal features (mine sites, overburden storage, tailing ponds, and end pit lakes). In situ development has a different footprint, mostly defined by linear features that extend across the lease area (networks of seismic lines, access roads, pipelines and well sites).(12, 14)As of 2009, only 600 km2 of land were disturbed by surface mining, accounting for 0.3% of the area where oil sands resources are present, or less than 0.1% of the total land area of Alberta. Eighty percent of the resource is currently expected to be extracted using in situ technologies, affecting approximately 136 000 km2 (97% of the total oil sands area).(13) While natural gas is used in surface mining, in situ recovery can use on the order of four times more than surface mining.(11) The cumulative footprint of the future oil sands operations may extend over approximately the 140 000 km2 during the course of the development, comprising of 20% of Alberta, and even more if the upstream footprint from the infrastructure required for natural gas production is included.(14)

Continue reading

Postmedia News: Alberta harvest first crop of waste-raised willows

EDMONTON — After flourishing on waste water from the town’s sewage treatment plant for more than two years, Whitecourt’s biomass crop of willows and poplars was ripe for harvest.

And last week, researchers brought in three different machines to cut, chip or bundle the various varieties of the fast-growing wood.

While trees aren’t usually on the list when farmers decide what crops they will plant, these species are being tested as both fuel and a way to naturally dispose of treated waste water and sludge.

Whitecourt offered the seven-hectare site beside its treatment plant to researchers in 2006, along with an electricity hookup and an unlimited supply of waste water to irrigate the young trees with underground pipes.

“The cut last week was our second on that site. The irrigated trees were 30-per-cent larger than the ones that weren’t irrigated, and we think they will be a good fuel source for our wood-burning power plant,” says Peter Yackulik, the town’s project manager.

“The question to be answered is what will it take to commercialize this operation in the future.”

The project is part of a federally led research program, with Alberta leading the way.

Whitecourt was the first test site in Canada, and there are now five locations in the province, says Richard Krygier, a researcher with Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Wood Fibre Centre.

Saskatchewan is also interested, and Krygier hopes what has started here will eventually be copied across the country.

The other municipalities taking part with Whitecourt — Edmonton, Camrose County, Grande Prairie and Beaverlodge — met recently with government and industry supporters to form the Alberta Rural Organic Waste to Energy Network (AROWEN) to exchange ideas and encourage others to consider their approach.

“There are now 24 municipalities, companies or government departments working on this project,” says Krygier, listing an irrigation firm, a nursery company and a laboratory.

The research may provide an alternative way to treat waste water. Most areas with fewer than 5,000 residents still use lagoons and primary treatment systems, which eventually discharge into streams and rivers.

Larger centres with state-of-the-art sewage systems, such as Whitecourt and Edmonton, still have to dispose of the leftover sludge.

Researchers are studying the effects of applying this material to fields of willow trees, where it breaks down and acts as a natural fertilizer.

Edmonton’s project involves using sludge with trees on a test plot near the new remand centre being built on the city’s northern outskirts.

These trees produce biomass that can be burned for heating or to generate electricity, or in the future could be used in bio-products such as chemicals and drugs.

At the Whitecourt site, Krygier says five varieties of willow and two types of poplar were planted on irrigated and non-irrigated land.

The waste water is the same highly treated effluent discharged into the river, so it really can’t be considered sewage.

“This was our first project and we weren’t prepared to work with something that was a little ‘fresher’,” Krygier said, referring to sewage treated only to the primary level.

Using soil moisture sensors, irrigation occurred when the young trees were so dry they needed extra water.

Irrigation only works during the growing season, so a town relying on willow fields would need a winter waste water storage site, such as an engineered wetland, Krygier says.

Harvesting was done with a Claas unit, which did a good job quickly chipping the stalks, a baling machine and a cane cutter pulled behind a tractor.

It’s a new application for equipment many Alberta farmers are already accustomed to using. Farmers also have plenty of experience handling chipped material (silage for dairy cows) and round bales of hay and straw.

“But you are talking $35,000 for the cutter, $140,000 for the round bailer and $160,000 for the Claas head unit, so we were demonstrating different equipment scales of harvesting.”

The willow and poplar chips are being dried in the yard of Edmonton’s Northern Forestry Centre, testing a new technique adopted from Ireland — pumping air through slotted pipes under the pile — that has been modified by a local grain-drying firm.

“In Ireland they could dry wood chips with 45 to 50 per cent moisture content, which is what they are right now in winter, down to 18 to 20 per cent in four months,” Krygier says.

The chips will be studied and graded at a national forestry research lab to determine their quality.

Other countries, such as Sweden, have plantations of fast-growing trees harvested every few years just like crops. If it makes economic sense, large areas of brush land, marginal farmland and even the land under power lines could support willow crops in Alberta.


© Copyright (c) Postmedia News


Using wastewater to irrigate short rotation crops delivers dual dividend (Logging and Sawmill Journal, Nov 2011)

For more information about this method, contact Martin Blank at (780) 435-7309 or Martin.Blank@nrcan.gc.ca, Richard Krygier at (780) 435-7286 or rkrygier@nrcan.gc.ca, or Derek Sidders at (780) 435-7355 or dsidders@nrcan.gc.ca

TorStar: Ontario only province to get an ‘A’ for drinking water: Ecojustice report

via: Toronto Star Published Nov 15 2011
Colin Perkel for The Canadian Press

TORONTO—More than a decade after the Walkerton disaster, much of Canada’s tap water remains at risk from contamination despite initial progress in front-line monitoring and treatment, a new report concludes.

In its third such report released Tuesday, the environmental group Ecojustice warns that while some jurisdictions have stepped up water protection efforts in the past five years, most have not done enough.

In 2000, seven people died and 2,500 fell ill in Walkerton, Ont., when the town’s poorly monitored drinking water was contaminated with E. coli from farm runoff.

The tragedy prompted most provinces to review and revamp their drinking water laws with mixed results — but that burst of enthusiasm has faded in recent years, according to the report.

“In many places, the health of Canadians is still at risk,” the report concludes.

“The lack of recent progress also seems to indicate that the impetus for improved water protection, spurred by events like Walkerton, is on the wane.”

The report called “Waterproof 3” finds only Ontario among the provinces worthy of an A grade for its water protection efforts, while Alberta lags with a C-.

The federal government gets an F for a record that continues to worsen, the report states.

In particular, the report criticizes Ottawa for a lack of progress on the legislative front, poor water quality for First Nations, and budget cuts it says will hurt Environment Canada’s ability to monitor the situation.

“The federal government is failing in almost every aspect of water protection, even though it should be setting rigorous standards,” the report says.

For the first time, the report has expanded to include source-water protection efforts — the idea that the best way to provide safe tap water is to ensure the water does not get contaminated in the first place.

The findings are not encouraging.

“Full-fledged source-water protection — a critical first step in achieving safe drinking water systems — has been implemented to some degree in only seven of 13 provinces and territories,” the report states.

“(It) is notably lacking in industry-heavy areas where the risk of contamination is high.”







Read more

For more information, please contact:

Kimberly Shearon, communications coordinator | Ecojustice
604.685.5618 x 242 | 778.988.1530

Sutton Eaves, communications director | Ecojustice

POLIS Project: A Blueprint for Reinventing Rainwater Management in Canada’s Communities

Via: POLIS Project on Ecological Governance – Water Sustainability Project (WSP)

Most of Canada’s communities manage stormwater runoff in a way that is not sustainable in the long term. Flooded streets and basements, degraded urban streams, increasing impacts of a changing climate, and expensive drainage infrastructure that demands constant maintenance are all evidence that we must learn to better integrate the water cycle into urban areas.

Peeling Back the Pavement: A Blueprint for Reinventing Rainwater Management in Canada’s Communities is the latest in POLIS’ water sustainability handbook series for decision makers, community leaders, and municipal water management staff.

Rethinking the way we deal with rain and snowmelt in our cities means replacing conventional pipe-and-convey systems with an approach that recognizes rainwater as a valuable resource while, at the same time, reducing runoff volume and improving runoff quality. Peeling Back the Pavement outlines the problems with conventional stormwater management and examines solutions for moving toward sustainability.

It provides a comprehensive blueprint that outlines the crucial steps necessary to change the way communities manage and, importantly, govern stormwater. The blueprint describes detailed actions that local and senior levels of government can take to move from the current system of stormwater management to one focused on rainwater as a resource.

The handbook is alive with examples and case studies demonstrating leading practice and on-the-ground results from across Canada and beyond. A main focus is addressing the fragmented responsibility for fresh water across and within jurisdictions—one of the greatest challenges to reinventing rainwater management.

Author(s): Susanne Porter-Bopp, Oliver M. Brandes & Calvin Sandborn with Laura Brandes

See also:

Canada Water Network / Reseau Canadien de l’eau – WEBINAR: Creating a Blue Dialogue — POLIS Water Sustainability Project

Shared Water, One Framework: What Canada Can Learn from EU Water Governance

University of Waterloo – Water Institute, Events page http://water.uwaterloo.ca/news_events.aspx

Calgary Herald: Water policy a priority for Alberta’s new environment minister

Alberta’s new Environment and Water minister says long-awaited public discussions on a system for divvying up southern Alberta’s scarce water resources will be coming in 2012.

The newly appointed Diana McQueen, MLA for Drayton Valley-Calmar, said public consultations on water – and southern Alberta’s current market for buying and selling limited water licences – is one of the top priorities in the new portfolio.

In an interview, McQueen said she wants the consultations to lead to improvements to what she describes as an already solid system that feeds agriculture, cities, towns and industry in the most populated region of the province.

“We’ve got a system that’s worked very well over the last 100 years,” McQueen said. “We want to make sure we are not throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

McQueen said her department would release some educational documents on water next year to prompt discussion on water – but already the province’s new premier has waded into the issue.

At a leader’s dinner in Medicine Hat earlier this month, Alison Redford suggested she doesn’t like the idea of going further down the path of putting a price on water, saying “it’s not the way I think we should go.”

However, Redford added she wants an open conversation on the issue where Albertans make the decision as to how to proceed.

Those with an interest in Alberta’s water supplies have long been waiting for some kind of clarity. It was more than three years ago when long-serving former environment minister Rob Renner said that public consultations on re-vamping the province’s water allocation system would go ahead with 18 months.

“Water policy has been stalled for the last several years,” said Bob Sandford, an Alberta water expert and author who chairs Canada’s participation in the United Nations Water for Life Decade.

“We’re not the water policy leaders that we think we are.”

Water issues are especially charged in southern Alberta, where almost every river, lake and stream has been closed to new water licence requests since 2006. Since new licences are no longer readily available from the government, a market has sprung up with 60 licences bought and sold in the last five years.

The issue is intensified by debate over Alberta’s century-old “first-in-time, first-in-right” water system, which gives the oldest water licence holders first dibs on supplies. Some of the oldest and most senior licence holders — and therefore those who wield the most water power — are irrigation districts for southern Alberta farmers, and the city of Calgary.

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/Water+policy+priority+Alberta+environment+minister/5631079/story.html#ixzz1cTfFNqLy