Water Canada: Water Quality Forecasting for Better Infrastructure Spending

Via: Water Canada, Posted on October 1, 2012
Written by Greg Rose and Tim Webster

Water resource conflicts are becoming increasingly prevalent as the intensity of competing uses of nearshore environments increases. Given the complexity of environmental systems, successfully managing and cost-effectively addressing these conflicts can be challenging. To address such challenges, a five-partner collaboration, comprising Golder Associates, Esri Canada, the Applied Geomatics Research Group, Scotia Weather Services and GeoNet, is developing and testing a water quality forecasting and infrastructure optimization system piloted in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Basin.

Funded by the Atlantic Innovation Fund of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the research project leverages geospatial technology for advanced mapping and analysis of various factors affecting water quality. When completed, the system will allow municipalities in the basin to focus their infrastructure investment strategies to maximize environmental returns and allow shellfish harvesting to be planned in a way that maximizes existing resources.

The issue

Shellfish harvesting is a key part of the economy of the Annapolis Basin, an arm of the Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada. For the region’s famed Digby clams and other seafood to be marketable, the water from which they are harvested must be sufficiently clean. This can be a challenge given the area’s proximity to sources of potential contamination, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), watershed runoff, and concentrated deposits of fecal matter from seabirds and seals, as well as high tidal flows that can carry contaminants far from the source and render the harvest from some of the basin’s shellfish growing areas (SGAs) temporarily unsafe.

While current legislative controls in Canada, administered via the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP), provide the necessary checks and balances for protecting human health, their application is relatively labour intensive and expensive. Understandably, the current protocols are geared to exercising precaution. This often leads to closures of growing areas, in cases where these have the potential to yield high-quality harvests under optimal environmental conditions. Conversely, where shellfish harvested from non-prohibited areas are identified as contaminated during the testing process, the harvest is inevitably worthless unless it can be purified cost-effectively.

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FLOW Speaking Tour Underway Urging Policy Makers to Embrace Water Protection

WATERLOO – Wilfrid Laurier University is hosting  The Forum for Leadership on Water  (FLOW)’s “Northern Voices, Southern Choices: Water Policy Lessons for Canada” cross-country tour on October 25, 2011. During the event, Bob Sandford, a leading water expert, will discuss the need for significant water policy reform.

“The days when Canadians take an abundance of fresh water for granted are numbered,” warns Sandford, who is the EPCOR Chair of the Canadian Partnership Initiative in support of the United Nations “Water for Life” Decade.

“Increasing average temperatures, climate change impacts on weather patterns and extensive changes in land use are causing incalculable damage to public infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, and seriously impacting water quantity and quality.”

Sandford emphasizes that floods and water damage caused by climate change will cost governments billions of dollars and threaten economic growth unless significant water policy reform is adopted.

“Governments need a Canada-wide strategy that effectively addresses current and emerging threats to freshwater security,” said Sandford. “We have seen what elements of such a strategy could look like thanks to leadership from the Northwest Territories, but other jurisdictions have to act now.”

FLOW is a national collaborative of water experts that encourages government action to protect critical fresh water resources. The group’s cross-Canada tour, which began in early October and runs to the end of November, aims to demonstrate the need to better prepare for climate change, increase civic engagement and think more strategically about water management.

Deb MacLatchy, Laurier’s vice-president: academic and provost and an aquatic toxicologist, will open the Oct. 25 forum. The panel also includes Stephen Kakfwi, former Northwest Territories premier; David Livingstone, former director, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada; and Chris Burn, NSERC Northern Research Chair, Carleton University.

Laurier and the government of the Northwest Territories signed a 10-year partnership agreement in May, 2010 to collaborate on research and training on climate change and water resource protection. The partnership supports the goals of the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy to ensure that the water of the NWT “remains clean, abundant and productive for all time.”

Laurier hosts the Institute for Water Science and Cold Regions Research Centre – multi- disciplinary research institutes that focus on cold regions and water science research, including public policy and management.

The event takes place Thursday, Oct. 25 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Paul Martin Centre on Laurier’s Waterloo campus. FLOW’s tour is primarily funded by the RBC Blue Water Project.

Tour Cities and Dates

Robert W. Sandford, EPCOR Chair of the Canadian Partnership Initiative in support of United Nations “Water for Life” Decade, will be speaking at the following places:

Information about the tour dates will be listed as it becomes available.

Generic or specific questions about the tour can be directed to Nancy Goucher.

G&M: Water risk database initiative launched by US business

A consortium of large U.S. companies including General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Coca-Cola and Dow Chemical is backing a new initiative to help manage water supplies in regions threatened by shortages, reflecting growing concern about the importance of water to businesses.

The Aqueduct Alliance, backed by seven large U.S. companies and the World Resources Institute, an environmental campaign group, is launching a new database showing water availability at a local level.

The database, which will be available to everyone, is intended to inform investment and planning decisions by businesses and governments, for example, by warning them that a plant might not be able to source the water it needs.

It will also enable investors to assess companies’ exposure to water risk.

Coca-Cola, the soft drinks group, has handed to the new alliance its own proprietary data on water availability, collected over years of research, making it open for general use. “Water is the lifeblood of our business,” said Joe Rozza, the group’s manager of water resources sustainability.

“Doing everything we can to put the fullest possible information about water supplies in front of strategic decision-makers in business, the public sector and non-governmental organisations is infinitely more valuable than anything we could make from selling the data. And it’s the right thing to do.”

Droughts this year in regions such as the southern U.S. and in the Yangtze river basin in China, have highlighted the threats water shortages pose to industrial production, oil and gas extraction and power generation as well as agriculture.

Kirsty Jenkinson of the WRI said: “Companies see the need to get better visibility about water if they are going to have to access it for their business. [With this database], they can see if they are at risk of not getting the water they need, or coming into conflict with other users of that water.”

Kyung-Ah Park, managing director of the environmental markets group at Goldman Sachs, said financial investors were also beginning to take account of water risk in their decisions.

“If you have two companies, A and B, and A has more plants in higher risk areas, then investors will be able to see that and may choose to invest in B instead,” she said.

Groups such as GE that provide water management products and services expect pressure on water supplies to drive demand for their businesses.

The Aqueduct database is initially being published for the Yellow River basin in China, to be followed by four more areas: the Colorado river in the U.S., the Yangtze in China, the Orange-Senqu basin in southern Africa and the Murray-Darling basin in Australia.

It will then be expanded to cover other regions around the world.

Veolia Water Launches Interactive Web Site Examining Water’s Economic, Environmental and Societal Impact

Press Release Source: Veolia Water On Wednesday May 18, 2011

CHICAGO, May 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Veolia Water today launched GrowingBlue.com, a data-driven resource that is designed to help municipalities, businesses and consumers gain a better understanding of today’s and tomorrow’s global and local water challenges and best practices. Focused on nature’s essential but often forgotten element – water –GrowingBlue.com uses a variety of tools, including animated maps, infographics and case studies, to provide a visually compelling, user-friendly representation of the current state of water in 180 countries. The site also includes possible water availability scenarios in 2050 and the intrinsic link between water and economic prosperity, societal stability and environmental sustainability.

Urban, domestic, industrial and agricultural sectors worldwide are competing for increasingly limited water supplies, and communities are being forced to reconsider the future of their economic and population growth. Currently, 2.5 billion people (36 percent of the world’s population) live in water-stressed regions, while more than 20 percent of the global GDP is already produced in risky, water-scarce areas. According to new data presented on the GrowingBlue.com site, almost half of the world’s economy and 4.8 billion people, roughly half the world’s expected population, could be located in regions facing water limitations by 2050.

GrowingBlue.com consists of three primary sections:

The Growing Blue™ Tool – A one-of-a-kind summary of the current state of water in 180 countries worldwide, as well as an initial focus on 50 U.S. states and major cities, which translates complex data gathered from a number of resources into a series of animated maps and benchmarks. Facts and figures accompanying each map provide analysis and rank the region’s water stress; municipal, agricultural and industrial water use; and condition of the current water delivery infrastructure. The information, including all data in its original spreadsheet format, is packaged into a PDF for water management officials and government leaders to download and use as a resource.

2050 Scenarios – Presents different economic, social and environmental scenarios that communities and companies worldwide could face in 2050 based on the implementation of sustainable water management practices versus “business as usual” approaches.

Implications of Growth – A candid, data-driven assessment of water’s economic, environmental and social impact that includes real-world examples of the costs, trade-offs and potential solutions to a variety of water challenges.

Veolia Water, in collaboration with Global Water Intelligence, was the main underwriter of the site, in consultation with industry colleagues, scientists, academia and non-governmental organizations, such as Clean Water America Alliance and the International Food Policy Research Institute.

NewYorkTimes BookChat: ‘The Big Thirst’: The Future of Water

New York Times Economix, May 3, 2011 by David Leonhardht

Charles Fishman, a longtime writer for Fast Company magazine, is the author of “The Big Thirst,” a new book on water. He previously wrote “The Wal-Mart Effect,” which won The Financial Times’s award for best business book of 2006. Our conversation follows.

Q. You call the last 100 years “the golden age of water,” at least in the developed world. But you also say the golden age is over. As you told Terry Gross, on “Fresh Air,” “We will not, going forward, have water that has all three of those qualities at the same time: unlimited, unthinkingly inexpensive and safe.” Why not?

Mr. Fishman: We’re spoiled. Well-designed, well-engineered water systems were built across the United States and the developed world 100 years ago. They worked so well that they literally helped make creative economically vibrant cities possible, and healthy. And those water systems were so successful they became invisible — and they remain invisible.

We just assume when we turn on the tap, the water will be there, and that the water system buried in the ground is doing fine.

Both assumptions are out of date. Population growth, economic development (which changes dramatically how much water people want and use), and climate change are all putting pressure on water supplies — not just in places like Las Vegas or California, but in Atlanta, in Florida, in Spain, across China.

We are going to have to move from an era of unconscious water abundance to an era of smart water — using water smartly (why do we water the azaleas, or flush our toilets, with purified drinking water?), and also modernizing and updating our creaky water systems. They were advanced technology 100 years ago. Now those systems struggle to keep up with our needs, and struggle for resources.

Free water — water so cheap you never think about cost when making water use decisions — is a silent disaster. When something is free, the message is: It’s unlimited.

Free water leads to constant waste and misallocation. Farmers and factory managers, hotels and gardeners never consider how much water they are using, and whether they are using it smartly — because the water bill itself sends no signal to be careful. (Half the water used by farmers worldwide is wasted.) There’s no incentive for efficiency.

Cheap water also means that the organizations we rely on to supply water — utilities, irrigation districts — never have the money to modernize, to replace crumbling systems, to find the “next gallon” of water supply.

Meanwhile, the poor pay the highest cost of all — hundreds of millions of people spend half of every day walking to fetch water that usually isn’t even clean. That water is “free” in that they don’t pay for it — except in terms of their health, their children’s health and their economic opportunities.

If you could change one thing that would fix almost everything about water — from better environmental stewardship to getting water to people who don’t have it now — it would be price. We can afford a bit more for our remarkable water system. We’ll be in trouble if we let it slide into obsolescence.

Q. I assume charging more for water would not solve the developing world’s problems. Doesn’t the increasing access to clean water require some other policy change? Or am I missing something?

Mr. Fishman: The key point about the pricing of water is this: People will pay for water that is safe, reliable, convenient, and liberates them from being slaves to walking or standing in line.

I visited a very poor neighborhood in Delhi named Rangpuri Pahadi. The 3,500 residents there live on $100 a month.

They got so frustrated standing in line hours a day at neighborhood pumps for water that didn’t even come at a regular time, they created their own miniature water system. They collected money — “capital” from people whose income is $3 a day — drilled wells, used their own labor to lay pipes from a storage tank to each each family’s shack.

Those who want water pay about one day’s wages a month, and the residents are thrilled. Their “upstart utility” gets them better water than the public standpipe, it comes on schedule, it liberates them to have jobs, liberates their kids to go to school. They pay the equivalent, for a U.S. family, of $150 a month for water. And they did it themselves.

Money isn’t the only solution to water — the cost of the Iraq war, alone, is enough to provide water systems for every village, every person, on Earth. The real problem is human — helping people get a water system they understand, can run and sustain themselves, and have confidence in. That’s harder than it sounds. But the problem isn’t technology, or resources, it’s political will and cultural understanding.

Read the rest of the interview

sludgewatch-l: 10 Cities with the worst drinking water

10 U.S. cities with the worst drinking water
If you live in Pensacola, Fla., you may want to invest in a water purifier

Texas conducted 22,083 water quality tests between 2004 and 2007 on Houston’s water supply, and found 18 chemicals that exceeded federal and state health levels.

By Douglas McIntyre

DailyFinance 2/3/2011

Unknown to most Americans, a surprising number of U.S. cities have drinking water with unhealthy levels of chemicals and contaminants.

In fact, some organizations and state environmental agencies that collect and analyze water data say the level of chemicals in some Americans’ drinking water not only exceeds recommended health guideline but the pollutants even exceed the limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the national legal authority in these matters.

The website 24/7 Wall St  examined the quality of water supplies in most major America cities, using data collected from multiple sources for five years (ending in 2009) by Environmental Working Group (EWG), based in Washington, D.C. The fact that the data covered a half-decade is important because it shows that the presence of certain chemicals is persistent.

Cities in Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia provided insufficient data to be included in EWG’s database. Some other major cities outside of these states also failed to submit information, including Detroit, Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C.

Test results from EWG’s national database covered “a total of 316 contaminants in water supplied to 256 million Americans in 48,000 communities in 45 states.” According to the data, among the contaminants were 202 chemicals that aren’t subject to any government regulation or safety standards for drinking water.

Based on the EWG’s methodology, 24/7 Wall St. came up with its 10 worst cities list. These cities’ water quality rank is based on three metrics, in order of increasing importance:

The percentage of chemicals found based on the number that were tested for.
The total number of contaminants found.
The most dangerous average level of a single pollutant.

Here’s that list, in descending order, with the city’s water utility in parenthesis:

10. Jacksonville, Fla. (JEA)
Located on the northeast coast of Florida, Jacksonville is the state’s largest city. According to EWG, 23 different toxic chemicals were found in Jacksonville’s water supply. The chemicals most frequently discovered in high volumes were trihalomethanes, which consist of four different cleaning byproducts ? one of which is chloroform. Many trihalomethanes are believed to be carcinogenic. Over the five-year testing period, unsafe levels of trihalomethanes were detected during each of the 32 months of testing, and levels deemed illegal by the EPA were detected in 12 of those months. During at least one testing period, trihalomethane levels were measured at nearly twice the EPA legal limit. Chemicals like arsenic and lead were also detected at levels exceeding health guidelines.

9. San Diego (San Diego Water Department)
Located on the Pacific in Southern California, San Diego is the country’s eighth-largest city. According to California’s Department of Public Health, San Diego’s drinking water system contained eight chemicals exceeding health guidelines as well as two chemicals that exceeded the EPA’s legal limit. In total, 20 contaminants have been found. One of those in excess of the EPA limit was trihalomethanes. The other was manganese, a natural element that’s a byproduct of industrial manufacturing and can be poisonous to humans.

8. North Las Vegas (City of North Las Vegas Utilities Department)
North Las Vegas’s water supply mostly comes from groundwater and the Colorado River, and doesn’t contain chemicals exceeding legal limits. However, the water supply did contain 11 chemicals that exceeded health guidelines set by federal and state health agencies. The national average for chemicals found in cities’ water exceeding health guidelines is four. North Las Vegas had a total of 26 contaminants, compared with the national average of eight. The water contained an extremely high level of uranium, a radioactive element.

7. Omaha (Metropolitan Utilities District)
The land-locked city of Omaha gets its water from the Missouri and Platte Rivers, as well as from groundwater. Of the 148 chemicals tested for in Omaha, 42 were detected in some amount, 20 of which were above health guidelines, and four of those were detected in illegal amounts. These were atrazine, trihalomethanes, nitrate and nitrite, and manganese. Atrazine is an herbicide that has been shown to cause birth defects. Nitrate is found in fertilizer, and nitrite is used for curing meat. Manganese was detected at 40 times the legal limit during one month of testing.

6. Houston (City of Houston Public Works)
Houston is the fourth-largest U.S. city. It gets its water from sources such as the Trinity River, the San Jacinto Rivers and Lake Houston. Texas conducted 22,083 water quality tests between 2004 and 2007 on Houston’s water supply, and found 18 chemicals that exceeded federal and state health guidelines, compared to the national average of four. Three chemicals exceeded EPA legal health standards, against the national average of 0.5 chemicals. A total of 46 pollutants were detected, compared to the national average of eight. The city water has contained illegal levels of alpha particles, a form of radiation. Similarly, haloacetic acids, from various disinfection byproducts, have been detected.

5. Reno (Truckee Meadows Water Authority)
Reno gets most of its water from the Truckee River, which flows from Lake Tahoe. Of the 126 chemicals tested for in Reno over four years, 21 were discovered in the city’s water supply, eight of which were detected in levels above EPA health guidelines, and three of these occurred in illegal amounts. These were manganese, tetrachloroethylene and arsenic. Tetrachloroethylene is a fluid used for dry cleaning and as an industrial solvent, and is deemed a likely carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Arsenic is a byproduct of herbicides and pesticides, and is extremely poisonous to humans. During at least one month of testing, arsenic levels were detected at roughly two and a half times the legal limit.

4. Riverside County, Calif. (Eastern Municipal Water District)
Riverside county is a 7,200-square-mile area located north of San Diego, part of California’s “Inland Empire.” The county is primarily located in desert territory, and so the water utilities draw their supply from the Bay Delta, which is miles to the north. The water in Riverside County contained 13 chemicals that exceeded recommended health guidelines over the four tested years, and one that exceeded legal limits. In total, 22 chemicals were detected in the district’s water supply. The contaminant exceeding legal health standards was tetrachloroethylene.

3. Las Vegas (Las Vegas Valley Water District)
Located in the Mojave desert, Las Vegas gets its water from the Colorado River through miles-long intake pipes. While its water doesn’t exceed the legal limits for any single type of contaminant, Las Vegas’s water has a large range of pollutants. Of the 125 chemicals tested for over a five-year period, 30 were identified in some amount, and 12 were found in levels that exceeded EPA health guidelines. These chemicals included radium-226, radium-228, arsenic and lead. The two radium isotopes are commonly found around uranium deposits and are hazardous to human health, even in small quantities.

2. Riverside, Calif. (City of Riverside Public Utilities)
Riverside, with a population slightly greater than 300,000, gets most of its drinking supply from groundwater. Regulators in the city of Riverside, which has a different water-treatment facility than the rest of Riverside County, detected 15 chemicals that exceeded health guidelines and one that exceeded legal standards. In total, 30 chemicals were found. Since 2004, the water has almost consistently been riddled with alpha particle activity, traces of bromoform (a form of trihalomethane) and uranium, causing an unusually unhealthy water supply.

1. Pensacola, Fla. (Emerald Coast Water Utility)
Located on the Florida Panhandle along the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola is Florida’s westernmost major city. Analysts say it has the worst water quality in the country. Of the 101 chemicals tested for over five years, 45 were discovered. Of them, 21 were discovered in unhealthy amounts. The worst of these were radium-228 and -228, trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, alpha particles, benzine and lead. Pensacola’s water was also found to contain cyanide and chloroform. The combination of these chemicals makes Pensacola’s water supply America’s most unhealthy.

Via: sludgewatch-l

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Celebrating Achievements in Water and Water Management – Water Canada magazine releases premiere “Water’s Next” 2011

Canada NewsWire
January 5, 2011

TORONTO, Jan. 5 /CNW/ – Water Canada magazine has launched its first-ever supplemental publication dedicated to recognizing Canadian innovation and leadership in water and wastewater projects.

“There are great achievements happening in water and water management that counter fears that governments, businesses and others are not doing enough,” says Kerry Freek, Editor, Water Canada and co-author of Water’s Next: Celebrating Canada’s Best and Brightest in Water. “Canada has energized leaders, innovative technologies, quality research, and unique solutions for water challenges all of which is making a difference in the country’s waterscape.”

Water’s Next shares achievements in four categories people, business, innovation and projects from across the country. A prestigious selection committee reviewed entries from Water Canada’s readers to settle on the inaugural features.


Cathie Brown, Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Drinking Water Source Protection Region

Bob Dell, The Water School

Peter Huck, University of Waterloo

Karen Kun, Waterlution

Tim Morris, The Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation



Enermodal Engineering

SMART Watering Systems


City of Moncton’s Fixed Network AMR System

Ontario’s Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act

Proficiency 3L Toilet


Alberta WaterSMART

Living Lakes Canada

The City of Dawson Creek Reuse Project

Water Canada is the only national magazine dedicated to water quality and stewardship in Canada. Published six times a year, Water Canada is the magazine of choice for news and information on drinking water, residential and commercial water treatment, source water protection and conservation, wastewater treatment, stormwater management, water resource management, technology advancement, policy and governance, business and investment, and waterworks infrastructure.

For the detailed listings, visit watersnext.ca

Copyright 2011 CNW Group Ltd.Canada NewsWire