RBC commits $1 M to support First Nations water and ecosystems

Via CNW, June 21, 2013

University of Guelph announces $1 million commitment from RBC Blue Water Project to improve water and biodiversity in First Nations communities

GUELPH, ON, June 21, 2013 /CNW/ – The University of Guelph announced today a $1 million commitment from the RBC Blue Water Project to support teaching and research initiatives in water and ecosystem monitoring, as well as treatment and conservation on First Nations reserves.

“Water contamination is one of the most important health-related environmental problems facing First Nations communities,” said president of the University of Guelph, Alastair Summerlee. “These communities also face serious and increasingly complex threats to ecosystem biodiversity. We have the research and teaching expertise and commitment — and now, thanks to RBC, additional resources to make a difference.”

The new education and research initiative includes student field projects to help them learn more about water and biodiversity. The gift was made through the BetterPlanet Project, the University’s $200-million fundraising campaign for teaching and research in food, environment, health and communities.

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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.”

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envirolaw: Will Environmental Tribunal Enforce Public Trust in Water?

Will Environmental Tribunal Enforce Public Trust In Water?
by Dianne Saxe, Saxe Law Office, May 22 2013

via mondaq.com

Ecojustice has intervened in an appeal before Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal, hoping that they will enforce a public trust in water resources.

Nestle Canada Inc. (“Nestle”) runs Ontario’s largest water bottling operation. They pump groundwater from two different sets of wells in the Guelph area. Each well requires a Permit to Take Water (“PTTW”) from the Ministry of Environment (“MOE”) in order to operate.

Nestle recently had the PTTW for one of their wells renewed by the Ministry. The renewed permit contains new conditions that require reduced water takings during periods of summer drought1. Nestle appealed these conditions to the Environmental Review Tribunal (“ERT”).

Ecojustice intervened in the appeal on behalf of public interest groups and/or local citizens with a long history of opposing Nestle’s bottled water operations in the area – the Wellington Water Watchers (“WWW”) and the Council of Canadians (“CoC”).

While the Ministry of the Environment is the main party defending the conditions, they have agreed to a settlement of the appeal. Ecojustice is asking the ERT to continue the hearing, in order to prevent any settlement agreement from weakening the anti-drought conditions. Ecojustice argues that the principles of the public trust doctrine (“PTD”) provide an additional basis for upholding the original conditions.

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LFP: Glencoe-area residents to use hydrogen peroxide as a secondary water treatment

Community will become only the second in North America to use hydrogen peroxide as a secondary water treatment

By Debora Van Brenk, The London Free Press
Thursday, May 16, 2013

Open wide.

Glencoe-area residents will soon be drinking water cleaned with a process similar to the kind used in some dental offices.

The community will become only the second in North America to use a proprietary system called Huwa-San Peroxide Technology as a secondary water treatment, instead of chlorine water disinfection.

The benefits, says Southwest Middlesex Mayor Doug Reycraft, include cleaner, safer and better-tasting water.

“This is new and has the potential to be used in many parts of the province,” Reycraft said. “What happens here is likely to be the prototype for other water systems in other areas of Ontario.”

It’s new here but not completely untried.

This specific technology, developed in Belgium, is used in Europe in hospitals and other closed systems that require ultra-high water quality, said Andy Valickis, engineer and senior project manager with the Ontario Clean Water Agency, which also operates the Southwest Middlesex water treatment facility.

It’s also been in use since November in the small eastern Ontario community of Killaloe, under approval from the Ontario Environment Ministry.

Valickis has high hopes and expectations of the technology.

“It’s a much more natural substance than chlorine is to the body so we think it’s a safer product to use.”

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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.

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Water Canada: Researchers sound warning about plastics in Great Lakes

Via Water Canada
March 8, 2013 by Saul Chernos

Message in a Bottle: Researchers sound warning about plastics in Great Lakes

When Dr. Sherri Mason and her team cast a net into three Great Lakes last July, scouring for debris, they weren’t sure what to expect. Mason, an associate professor of chemistry with the State University of New York (SUNY), had followed the ongoing saga of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and other giant swirls of litter cluttering the oceans and wondered about the situation closer to home. Might the world’s largest body of fresh water be a significant contributor to an alarming phenomenon that has seen highly durable plastics literally stuff the bellies of birds, fish, and other sea creatures? Anxious about the impact that people living within this enormous inland watershed might be having on aquatic life, Mason secured funding, arranged for a boat, and assembled the resources and expertise needed to draw answers from the lakes’ often-choppy waters.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not alone in the world, and it is somewhat of a misnomer. There are two major garbage patches in the Pacific—one north, one south—and there are two more in the Atlantic, plus a fifth in the Indian Ocean. Each is located within a major gyre, subservient to its currents. Marcus Eriksen, executive director of the 5 Gyres Institute, has visited each of them, studying their effects on aquatic life. From microscopic bead-like molecules to entire cigarette lighters and water bottles, Eriksen has seen it all—and not always floating or captured in his nets. Three years ago, after finding dead birds with plastic extruding from their decomposing chests, he was moved to launch 5 Gyres to confront this emerging but increasingly striking environmental crisis.

Eriksen has always been a fighter. The New Orleans native joined the U.S. Marines and saw action in 1991 securing burning oil wells in Kuwait. Two decades later, conscious that plastics are derived from the very petrochemicals he once protected, he’s looking to combat consumer and industrial waste. “The shift was really just questioning what’s worth fighting for,” Eriksen explains.

Under Eriksen’s guidance, 5 Gyres members have sailed the world with fine-mesh nets and all the laboratory tools needed to identify microscopic particles. The one thing the group has lacked is permanent access to a vessel. So, when Mason arranged space aboard the U.S. Brig Niagara for three weeks to sample three Great Lakes and sought assistance from 5 Gyres, Eriksen was hooked.

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Council of Canadian Academies: Canadian agriculture is faced with great opportunities, but also challenged by water-related risks and uncertainties.

Water and Agriculture in Canada: Towards Sustainable Management of Water Resources 

The agricultural sector is an important contributor to Canada’s prosperity and well-being and there are substantial opportunities for the sector in the coming decades. However, Canadian agriculture is also challenged by water-related risks and uncertainties. Growing competition for water, land, and other resources, in addition to the uncertain impact of climate change and variability, will place increased stress on agricultural production in Canada and throughout the world. To better understand this complex issue, the Council was asked by Agriculture and Agri-Food to conduct an evidence-based assessment to identify what additional science is needed to better guide sustainable management of water to meet the needs of agriculture.

To conduct the assessment, the Council convened a Panel of 15 Canadian and international experts from diverse fields. Dr. Howard Wheater, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security, chaired the Expert Panel.

The Panel has developed an authoritative report that explores five key areas where additional science and action can contribute to better sustainable management of water in agriculture.

These five key areas are:

The risks and uncertainties of market conditions, competition for land and water resources, and climate change;

Improved monitoring and data interpretation that could be used to facilitate adaptive management techniques;

The interaction between land management and water resources – including the assessment of beneficial management practices (BMPs), conservation agriculture, and ecosystem services approaches;

Promising farm-scale technologies that could contribute to efficient water use, reduced environmental impacts, and sound investment decisions;

Governance structures, valuation techniques, economic incentives, and knowledge transfer strategies that would help to facilitate better management decisions and uptake of sustainable practices;


What additional science is needed to better guide sustainable management of water to meet the needs of agriculture?

Report and related products:

Expert Panel

The Expert Panel on Sustainable Management of Water in Agricultural Landscapes of Canada was chaired by Dr. Howard Wheater, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security, Professor, School of Environment and Sustainability and Department of Civil and Geological Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Saskatchewan. For a complete list of panel members visit the Expert Panel on Sustainable Management of Water in Agricultural Landscapes of Canada page.

For further information, please contact:

Cate Meechan, Director of Communications at 613-567-5000 ext. 228 or cathleen.meechan@scienceadvice.ca