Water Canada : Diagnosis: Stream Sickness

Via: Water Canada 

Posted on December 16, 2013
Written by Angela Wallace

Are Toronto’s streams sick? Yes, many of them are. They are suffering from an “illness” known as urban stream syndrome (USS), which results from changes associated with urban development. The hardening of surfaces, such as roads and roofs, creates a landscape that makes it difficult to absorb rainfall. In areas without proper stormwater management, the volume of stormwater is high and runoff collects sediment, nutrients, and contaminants as it travels across hard surfaces, causing streams to function more like sewers. Symptoms include changes in the aquatic community, hydrology, and water chemistry.

The Greater Toronto Area has approximately 5.5 million people. This has put pressure on its approximately 3,654 kilometres of streams and watercourses. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), one of 36 conservation authorities in the province, has been tasked with protecting and managing water and other natural resources in partnership with government, landowners, and other agencies.

TRCA operates a long-term, large-scale Regional Watershed Monitoring Program (RWMP), which tracks aquatic habitat and species, surface water quality, stream flow, precipitation, groundwater quality and quantity, and terrestrial natural heritage in nine watersheds across 3,467 square kilometres. Data from the RWMP was recently used to show that streams in the Toronto region have USS. Road density (used as a surrogate of urbanization) was shown to be related to the USS symptoms. Both fish and benthic-macroinvertebrate (aquatic “bugs” that inhabit stream bottoms) communities were negatively related to road density. Higher road density was also linked to decreases in aquatic ecosystem health (biotic diversity), higher stream water temperature and discharge, lower amounts of forest, and higher levels of contaminants.

In fact, concentrations of nutrients, metals, and bacteria were all higher in catchments with higher road density; several contaminants, including chloride, copper, E. coli, sodium, and zinc, had very strong relationships with road density, suggesting they are more abundant in urban areas and that impervious cover may serve to concentrate and convey these variables quickly to local waterways.

Continue reading

Advertisements

AJ: Centralized systems vulnerable to climate change conditions

via: Alternatives Journal, Jan. 2013 / Lifecycles 39.1

Best in Flow

by Stu Campana

YOU JUST TOOK A WATER BALLOON TO THE FACE. The good news is that, as a Canadian, you are rarely so pressed to think about the quality and abundance of your water. Globally, there is enough clean and fresh water for everyone. Nevertheless, huge shortages remain in many parts of the world due to the naturally uneven distribution of the water cycle (among other factors). Even more problematic, the cycle is easily disrupted: small climatic shifts can quickly bring too much or too little, wreaking havoc on conventional water management systems.

These systems are proving inadequate to the challenges created by climate change. Because Canada has been spared the harshest impacts (so far), we are largely unprepared for major water cycle shifts. Fortunately for us, there are lessons to be learned from many communities (including a few homegrown examples) that have already adopted decentralized water management strategies. What we need to absorb are not the designs themselves, but the principles of resilience and low-impact development, which are essential to building a water system that can withstand shocks.

To clarify, the concept of decentralized systems is intended as a geographical distinction rather than a political one. In this context, both centralized and decentralized systems can refer to public or private and municipal or federal initiatives.

Most Canadian cities use water from a single source and dispose of it in a single location. The system works well enough under normal circumstances; there’s no real need to recycle when freshwater remains in ready supply. This centralized structure, however, is like an 18-wheeler on a treacherous highway, struggling to cope with changes in speed and direction. Enough of both, and it might crash.

Increases in the intensity of flooding, droughts and storms are all expected impacts of climate change on water cycles. “New patterns of wind, humidity, and ambient temperature are already dramatically altering the weather map,” wrote Chris Wood, author of Dry Spring: The Coming Water Crisis of North America, in a 2005 article. “Some parts of the country are receiving more rain than ever before; other regions are drying up.” Moreover, Wood argues that “Canada’s multibillion-dollar investment in water infrastructure” is already outdated: “It will not be able to either contain the massive floods or ameliorate the droughts of the future.”

No, perhaps not. An anecdote from our nation’s capital may help explain why.

For most of one day in early September 2012, it rained heavily in Ottawa – not an uncommon event for the time of year, or one likely to raise alarms. Yet the capital region’s residents were unpleasantly surprised to find that the rainfall had caused 63.5 million litres of diluted sewage to overflow into the Ottawa River. Ottawa’s stormwater system is typical of a mid-sized Canadian city: made up of no less than 1500 kilometres of pipes, including some overlap with the sewage system. The labyrinth of pipes is not designed to handle large influxes of water, and the results are more or less catastrophic when it happens.

Like most of the world, Canada’s cities are ill equipped to handle sweeping problems such as contaminated water supplies and widespread flooding. Ottawa’s sewer system can’t cope with an enormous rain deluge any more than India’s water reserves can withstand weeks of drought. Centralized systems are vulnerable to climate change conditions because the size and nature of the infrastructure makes adaptation difficult. Breaking water management structures down into discrete, independent and decentralized systems builds resilience against fluctuation.

Continue reading

CNW: Global Water and OCWA to bring Smartgrid for Water to Canada

Global Water and OCWA to bring Smartgrid for Water to Canada

– Global Water Enters in to Memorandum of Understanding with OCWA –

PHOENIX, AZ, Feb. 27, 2012 /CNW/ – GWR Global Water Resources Corp. (TSX: GWR), Global Water Resources, Inc. (“Global Water”) and the Ontario Clean Water Agency (“OCWA”) today announced that their respective organizations have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) to offer FATHOMTM to existing and prospective clients in Ontario and throughout Canada. FATHOMTM is Global Water’s proprietary utility operating system that increases utility revenue, decreases costs and enhances water conservation efforts by providing real-time water consumption data to water utility customers.

Through FATHOMTM and under this MOU, OCWA will have the ability to provide an integrated suite of utility data management tools to its municipal clients to enhance their operational efficiency, save money and save water. The MOU represents Global Water FATHOM™’s first entry into the Canadian utility market, and brings the opportunity to offer Smartgrid for Water to the 140 municipalities that OCWA currently serves.

“As the largest operator of water and wastewater utilities in the province, we feel it is vitally important to introduce progressive water management tools wherever possible. Not only can these technologies make operations more efficient, they are critical for increasing awareness of water use amongst consumers,” said OCWA President Jane Pagel. “Offering FATHOMTM to our clients reflects the province’s goals established under Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act, and the Ontario Water Technology Acceleration Program and Efficiency Initiative. These programs are designed to make Ontario a North American leader in developing water technologies and services.”

Ms. Pagel also stated, “One of Global Water FATHOM™’s key benefits is the ability to provide real-time information about consumption to users. With this knowledge, we expect that consumers will be able to make informed decisions about their water use and our utility clients will be able to use the information to increase the efficiency of their operations.”

“The OCWA-Global Water MOU represents a real collaboration of like-minded organizations. Like OCWA, Global Water operates utilities and must do so efficiently and effectively under increasing water scarcity, with consistent regulatory and public pressures. We developed FATHOM™ to assist us in that charge and are pleased that OCWA also sees its value to their operations. In today’s economy it’s about doing more with less. FATHOMTM is a perfect fit for utilities looking to manage water, the value of water and increase customer services,” said Trevor Hill, President and CEO of Global Water.

FATHOMTM is deployed as an integrated suite of utility-to-utility services including Automated Meter Infrastructure, Customer Information System and Asset Management solutions that have been proven to lower utility operating costs while improving service levels. The solution is hosted in a secure cloud computing environment, which makes implementation rapid and requires no additional IT personnel or infrastructure.

About GWR Global Water Resources Corp
GWR Global Water Resources Corp owns an approximate 48.1% interest in Global Water. It was incorporated under the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia) to acquire shares of Global Water and to actively participate in the management, business and operations through its representation on the board of directors and its shared management.

About Global Water
Global Water is a leading water resource management and technology company that owns and operates water, wastewater and recycled water utilities, and provides technology-enabled services through its unique platform, FATHOMTM Utility-to-Utility (“U2U™”) Solutions. Initially developed by Global Water to support and optimize its own utilities, FATHOMTM is an integrated suite of advanced technologies proven to increase revenue, decrease costs and bring efficiencies to water utilities.

About OCWA
The Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) provides environmentally responsible and cost-effective water and wastewater services to municipalities, institutions, industry and First Nations. Established as a provincial crown agency in 1993, OCWA operations, engineering, and technical services provide clean water expertise to communities and businesses all across Ontario. http://www.ocwa.com

For further information:

Ross Marshall, Investor Relations
Tel: 416-815-0700 ext. 238 or Email: rmarshall@equicomgroup.com
http://www.gwresources.com http://www.gwfathom.com

Nick Reid, Vice-President, Business Development, OCWA
Tel: 416.314.0068 or Email: nreid@ocwa.com
http://www.ocwa.com

Scientific American: How the “Internet of Things” Is Turning Cities Into Living Organisms

When city services can autonomously go online and digest information from the cloud, they can reach a level of performance never before seen.

December 6, 2011

By Christopher Mims

When city services can autonomously go online and digest information from the cloud, they can reach a level of performance never before seen. First up, water systems that automatically know when it will rain and react accordingly.

With a little help from what’s called the Internet of Things, engineers are transforming cities from passive conduits for water into dynamic systems that store and manage it like the tissues of desert animals. By using the Internet to connect real-world sensors and control mechanisms to cloud-based control systems that can pull in streams from any other data source, including weather reports, these efforts enable conservation and money-saving measures that would have been impossible without this virtual nervous system.

Marcus Quigley, principal water engineer at the infrastructure engineering firm Geosyntec, has been tackling this problem using hardware from Internet of Things company ioBridge, whose Internet-connected sensors have been used in everything from location-aware home automation to tide gauges that tweet.

It may sound like a trivial problem, but the EPA estimates that the U.S. has $13 billion invested in wastewater infrastructure alone. More importantly, the majority of America’s largest cities–more than 700 in all–dump millions of gallons of raw sewage into our waterways every time it rains, because their sewer and stormwater systems were designed a century ago.

These overwhelmed cities include New York City, Detroit, Boston, Portland, St. Louis, Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, many other cities, mostly in the Rust Belt and New England. With the notable exception of Los Angeles, almost every major urban center in the U.S. is in need of a way to soak up rainstorms rather than dump them straight down the drain in a desperate attempt to prevent flooding.

That’s where “high performance” infrastructure–infrastructure that can react to its environment like a living thing–comes in.

“The conventional way to build a city is you build what you want, and then you get rid of water as quickly as possible,” says Quigley. Historically, that’s meant massive projects to redirect all the water sluicing down impermeable streets and concrete and into the Moria-like recesses of a city’s sewer system. Green infrastructure tries to control runoff on-site, rather than sending it below, through the use of “bioretention cells” and rain gardens, which absorb and filter the water into collections of plants and artificial wetlands.

High-performance green infrastructure takes things a step further, by anticipating demand for water storage and preparing a system accordingly. For example, in seven projects deployed in St. Louis and one in New Bern, North Carolina, Geosyntec integrated a building’s rainwater catchment system with software that uses weather predictions from the Internet to know when a basin should be partly emptied to accommodate incoming stormwater.

Many more projects of this kind are on the way, including installations in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

“Instead of trying to use what I consider sub-optimal passive systems to control these … components of the urban environment, what we’re doing is making decisions in real time to achieve specific environmental goals,” says Quigley.

Dynamic control of a rainwater catchment allows these basins to be used to their maximum without fear that they’ll be overwhelmed by weather events. Giving building planners the assurance that they’ll always have access to a free water supply means they can actually use it. And putting these on enough buildings could go a long way to solving the problem of combined sewer and stormwater systems being overwhelmed when it rains.

It’s early days for these kinds of systems, and managing runoff is just one of the applications they could be put to use.

“The big picture is that we are able to take any piece of information that is Internet-accessible, any feed, and integrate it into the logic of how we operate these components of our city,” says Quigley.

Geosyntec’s cloud-based infrastructure is just as important as the physical infrastructure it puts into place on-site. Led by software developer Alex Bedig, the company has created a general-purpose platform for handling all the relevant inputs, sending instructions to valves and other control points, and never, ever failing in an emergency.

Taken together, these physical and virtual systems are explicitly biomimetic, says Quigley.

“The intent of an active system is to take the built environment and have it perform as if it were natural. We’re fundamentally saying that passive systems are unable to do that in an optimal way. In many cases they are unable to do it at all.”

It’s a story we’ve heard in the energy industry for years–hence the notion that a dynamically managed “smart grid” is not only helpful, but absolutely essential for integrating our power-generating infrastructure with the natural world through renewables. The smart grid extends all the way down to the level of the individual through demand management for energy conservation, but these principles have yet to show up on the same scale in the management of physical resources like water.

Humanity has a sorry habit of neglecting its waste stream, whether its the 99% of precious rare earth elements we fail to recycle or the complete absence of curbside composting from most American cities. The handy thing about water is that, through evaporation, it recycles itself. Now all we have to do is make the best use of it we can while it’s coursing through our cities.

via: Fast Company

————————–

Publications and Projects by Geosyntec:

NRDC Report: 14 Cities Prove That Green Infrastructure Cleans Waterways, Cuts Costs and Greens Cities

WASHINGTON, DC — (Marketwire) — 11/16/11 — Cities of all sizes are tackling their water pollution problems, such as stormwater runoff and sewage overflow, by employing green infrastructure and design — and they will save money as a result, according to a peer-reviewed report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report provides detailed case studies analyzing how 14 cities are using these methods and encourages the EPA to advance these solutions nationwide later this year.

‘Every single day, millions of gallons of good water needlessly drain away, filling our waterways with sewage and urban pollutants, rather than replenishing our water supply,’ said NRDC Water Program Director David Beckman. ‘But it doesn’t have to be that way. By making our communities literally greener, we can make our water sources cleaner too — and with much greater return than conventional solutions.’

‘Rooftops to Rivers II‘ details common water pollution problems and provides case studies for 14 geographically diverse cities that can all be considered leaders for employing green infrastructure solutions to address their pollution problems. The cities featured in the report have improved their ability to manage stormwater and reduce runoff pollution, saved money and beautified their cityscapes by capturing rain where it falls.

‘Cities of all sizes are recognizing that green infrastructure — which stops rain where it falls — is the smartest way to reduce water pollution from storms,’ said Karen Hobbs, NRDC senior policy analyst. ‘It often only takes a fraction of an inch to trigger this kind of pollution. And the extreme weather we’ve seen in much of the country this year — from drought to floods and hurricanes — drives home the need for smarter solutions to our water woes.’

The 14 cities featured in the report are all positioned on a six-point ‘Emerald City Scale’ to assess how each of these trailblazing leaders is doing. They are listed here from the highest to lowest points scored:

  • Philadelphia, PA (6)
  • Milwaukee, WI (5)
  • New York, NY (5)
  • Portland, OR (5)
  • Syracuse, NY (5)
  • Washington, D.C. (5)
  • Aurora, IL (4)
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada (4)
  • Chicago, IL (3)
  • Kansas City, MO (3)
  • Nashville, TN (3)
  • Seattle, WA (3)
  • Pittsburgh, PA (1)
  • Detroit Metro Area & the Rouge River Watershed, MI (1)

The six-point scale identifies the primary actions every city can undertake to maximize their green infrastructure investment, including: a long term green infrastructure plan for the city, a retention standard, a requirement to reduce existing impervious surfaces using green infrastructure, incentives for private-party action, guidance or other assistance in deploying green infrastructure, and a dedicated funding source.

Only one city, Philadelphia, is undertaking all six actions, but each city featured in the report is undertaking at least one.

Green infrastructure — in contrast to paved and other impermeable surfaces — stops runoff pollution from the start, by capturing rainwater and either storing it for future consumer use or letting it filter back into the ground, replenishing vegetation and groundwater supplies. Examples include green roofs, street trees, increased green space, rain barrels, rain gardens, and permeable pavement. These design solutions have the added benefits of beautifying neighborhoods, cooling and cleansing the air, reducing asthma and heat-related illnesses, lowering heating and cooling energy costs, boosting economies, and supporting American jobs.

The report details how green infrastructure is frequently more cost-effective than traditional approaches to addressing runoff, like pipes and holding tanks. The City of Philadelphia estimates that a traditional approach to its sewage overflow problems would have cost billions more than its state-approved green infrastructure plan, which will achieve comparable results as it transforms 34 percent of the city’s impervious surfaces to ‘greened acres.’ The American Society of Landscape Architects recently surveyed its members and found that green infrastructure reduced or did not influence costs 75 percent of the time. EPA’s own analysis shows that green infrastructure approaches save money for developers, communities and, the vast majority of the time, for new development.

Read more

via: Environmental Expert