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RES'EAU-WaterNET

Challenge

Contaminated drinking water poses a major health threat for the inhabitants of small, rural and First Nations communities in Canada. This issue was brought to the forefront of Canadian science and politics following dire drinking water crises in Walkerton, Ontario, North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and the Kashechewan First Nations Reserve in Northern Ontario.

Many cases of water contamination in these communities go largely undetected, but they are all too common an occurrence - nearly 100 First Nation communities across Canada have "boil water advisories" in any given year. Despite this nation's high standard of living and track record for technological advancement, health authorities in Canada and the USA believe that unsafe drinking water is the cause of many illnesses and loss of lives every year.

Small, rural and First Nations communities face several challenges in the provision of safe drinking water that set them apart from larger urban centres, not the least of which being the chronic lack of financial resources for infrastructure investment, as well as limited access to skilled workers, adequate technical information and suitable technologies. Complicating the issue is the fact that source waters for many small, rural and First Nations communities exhibit high seasonal and geographic variability, meaning that multiple solutions are often required to achieve proper disinfection - exacerbating the funding and technology gaps with which these communities must cope.

Network Structure

RES'EAU-WaterNET is Canada's first and only organization devoted exclusively to developing innovative, reliable technologies for providing clean drinking water to small, rural communities (SRCs). We unite water technology engineers, chemists, economists, science policy experts, industry partners and key stakeholders (e.g., government agencies, small water system operators and end-users) in an innovative, multidisciplinary research network. In all, RES'EAU-WaterNET's 18 research projects involve 14 professors and collaborators from seven universities across Canada. Supporting these efforts are industry partners that include technology providers and consultants, municipalities, professional organizations and related government agencies.

The network's administrative centre is located at the University of British Columbia.

Research Objectives

RES'EAU-WaterNET's research agenda is designed to address drinking water treatment challenges in SRCs based on both community size (<2,000 residents and/or <500 municipal connections) and the variability of their source waters. While our research focuses primarily on communities with communal or central treatment systems, the technologies we develop could have wider applicability for individual systems and users with point-of-use or point-of-entry treatment needs. Specifically, RES'EAU-WaterNET's research projects focus on:

  • understanding and modeling the variability of source water quality in SRCs and the impacts of source water on drinking water treatment;
  • developing new robust water treatment technologies and processes for SRCs. Special emphasis will be given to emerging photocatalytic, ultraviolet (UV) and membrane-based technologies that are versatile and suitable for applications in remote communities;
  • evaluating existing technologies and practices, emphasizing the compatibility and integration of new technologies with existing practices;
  • projecting operating and capital costs for treatment technologies and developing strategies for decision making and system operation;
  • validating technologies and developing related knowledge transfer tools and strategies.

Outcomes

Some key, specific outcomes of RES'EAU-WaterNET research are:

  • Innovative and cost-effective "passive" water treatment technologies/processes for different source water inputs: The advanced technologies developed and evaluated by RES'EAU-WaterNET will help ensure the health of Canadians living in SRCs. Our focus is on robust "passive" processes and treatment approaches that eliminate or minimize reliance on harmful chemicals and can treat different qualities of source water.
  • Models on source water quality and variation: Different predictive models will be developed through RES'EAU-WaterNET projects. These models will link land-use and source water quality under seasonally variable climatic conditions, determine contribution of source water quality variability on disinfection byproducts (DBPs) and help identify operational strategies for small water systems to minimize DBP formation.
  • Technology Adoption Toolbook: Using an algorithmic format, and through a much-needed source water quality classification across Canada, this Toolbook will clarify decision options open to small systems managers and related decision-makers.
  • Decision support tool for system operation: Small systems are chronically short on trained and skilled personnel - our decision tool will address this knowledge gap and serve as a valuable resource for operating a water treatment facility.

Contacts

Madjid Mohseni
Principal Investigator
Tel.: 604-822-0047
E-mail: mmohseni@chml.ubc.ca

Keyvan Maleki
Network Manager
Tel.: 604-827-5963
E-mail: kmaleki@chml.ubc.ca

Web site: This link will take you to another Web site www.reseauwaternet.ca


Contact us at 1-877-767-1767

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