Monthly Archives: March 2016

Two Eyed Seeing…

Slave_River_Watershed Northern peoples have been seeing changes in the environment. There are questions about the health of northern ecosystems  due to the effects of upstream development, climate pressures, and a desire for increased environmental monitoring. In the North West Territories we see a partnership develop between government, locals, educational, and academics called the Slave River and Delta Partnership(SRDP) to monitor the northern ecosystem and support water stewardship.slace river3

The SRDP is looking to address concerns like fish deformities and taste, altered river flows, and changing ice conditions. In the past these type of issues would have been looked at through researchers using Western science practices with little local input. This “helicopter” approach created mistrust amongst the locals who had much knowledge , but were not asked for much input. The indigenous communities know the ways of the land and water. They have a tradition of story telling using symbols and face to face learning. The SRDP is looking to be the place where Western scientific thought , meets indigenous traditional thought.slave river 4

Between 2012 and 2015 the SRDP , along with the U of Saskatchewan received funding from the Canadian Water Network to look at concerns along the Slave River and Delta. Is the water safe to drink? Are the fish and wildlife safe to eat? Is the ecosystem healthy? This became the Slave Watershed Environmental Effects Program. (SWEEP). Community members and researchers met to see how they could blend the traditional ecological knowledge(TEK) with scientific methods to help answer these questions, and develop a framework. The Six faces of TEK were aligned with the * phase model for conducting community based research. The project evolved and adapted… elders indicated a non written preference, so a video was developed. Locals walked the land with the researchers and shared knowledge. Locals were also trained to operate and collect data using scientific equipment deepening the bond with the two groups.Slave river 2

SWEEP: Whiteboard Animation video..

By bridging these two modes of learning and simultaneously studying scientific and traditional indicators of the health of the area, SWEEP was able to come to a more complete understanding of the impacts on the river and delta.

Water Drummers sing to the Slave River:

from an article in Water Canada March/April 2016. Two Eyes Seeing.

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BPA…Eliminating/ Reducing Exposure

plastic bottlesThere are health concerns around Bisphenol A (BPA) found in certain water bottles, canned foods, and food storage containers. Seemingly innocent hard plastic items have been linked to serious health problems, from tumors to the feminization of males, caused by BPA.plastic7

BPA is a heavily used industrial compound used in the manufacture of plastics and resins. Polycarbonate plastics carry the No.7 recycling symbol, and BPA is widely used in many products from carpets to eyeglasses. It has recently caught our attention when it was shown to leach out of the plastic bottles and cans lines with BPA epoxy resins.plastic bottles2

There is enough concern that the Government of Canada, is proposing to ban polycarbonate baby bottles, which are the primary source of BPA exposure for this age group, when hot or boiling liquids are added. Initial assessments also show that low levels of BPA can affect fish and organisms over time. Studies have shown it to be present in municipal waste water.  Government s are now moving forward with the various stakeholders to find ways to make sure BPA is not released into the environment.plastic codes

The typical North American lifestyle exposes us to BPA everyday. Here is how we can diminish or even eliminate exposure to BPA.

  1. do not use bottles made of polycarbonate…stay away from bottles with the recycling no.7 on the bottom.
  2. use glass baby bottles
  3. reduce canned food use.
  4. avoid using plastic wrap.
  5. avoid bottled water.
  6. ensure dental sealants do not contain BPA.
  7. a good alternative to polycarbonate is polyethylene terephthalate (recycling no.1)

BPA in plastics: CNN report:

…Wait for the end for a bit about Canada in the CNN report.

Rainsoft Reverse Osmosis:

Today..March 22, 2016 World Water Day

what is in it?

To celebrate water’s big day , here are some facts about access to water from around the globe from Water.org.

1 1.8 billion people from around the world lack access to safe water.

2. Globally, 1/3 of all schools lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation.

3. In low and middle income countries, a third of all healthcare facilities lack a safe water source.

4. The World Economic Forum in January 2015 ranked the water crisis as the number 1 global risk based on impact to society.

5. The incidence of children suffering from stunting and chronic malnutrition…at least 160 million- is linked to water and sanitation.

6. More than 840,000 people die from a water related disease each year.

7. 82% of people who don’t have access to “improved water” live in rural areas.

8. More than 1/3 of people worldwide lack access to a toilet, more than the number of people who have a mobile phone.

9. Women and children spend 125 million hours collecting water every day, individual women and children can spend as many as 6 hours daily on collecting fresh water.

10. Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water related disease.

11. Universal access to safe water and sanitation would result in $18.5 billion in economic benefits each year from deaths avoided alone, a return of$4 for every dollar spent on safe water access.

12. The amount of safe water could drop by 40% in 15 years if people do not change the way they use water.

World Water Day 2016. Man cleans river on his own:

March 22 is World Water Day

Canada, Bugaboos Earth’s oceans, lakes , rivers , and streams are it’s circulatory system…providing life’s essentials  for people, animals and ecosystems.  Canada has 1/5 of the world’s fresh water, 1/4 of the wetlands, and the longest coastline. We are so blessed, but we should not take this for granted.

So many people in the world question whether they have safe and abundant drinking water. In fact, in Canada there are over 1,000 boil water advisories in place on any day. In May of 2000 bacteria in Walkerton , Ontario caused several deaths and 2300 illnesses. In 2001 in North Battleford , Sask. 14,000 residents to ill from unclean water. First Nations peoples are 90 times more likely to lack access to clean water. We are a water rich country , how can this be..?bugaboo4

At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, Canada recognized the right to water, but the committed follow through is lacking. In 2015 the UN report points out” the global water crisis is one of governance, much more than of resource availability…” Canada is the only G8 country without legally enforceable national drinking water quality standards. Federal water policy is over 25yrs old.  We need a new national strategy instead of relying on a hodgepodge of provincial policies.bugaboo3

The David Suzuki Foundation’s Blue Dot movement is taking a stand on World Water Day, helping communities across Canada call on the federal government to make good on our right to clean water by enacting a federal environmental bill. of rights.

 

Blue Dot Campaign: David Suzuki

What can you do to help?bugaboo2

 

World Water Day 2016 : Official Trailer.

Insidious Contamination

pressure wash 4One of the major environmental issues of our time is the contamination of groundwater and freshwater systems. High profile sources of pollution like landfills, pesticides , herbicides, road salt, and abandoned oil and gas tanks get the focus of concerned parties. Typically overlooked is the contamination from power washing. It was estimated in the 1990’s that there was over 1 billion pounds of contaminants released into the environment each year through power washing. Since then the practice has only grown, with power washers nearly as common as lawnmowers.pressure wash

Contamination of groundwater and freshwater from power washing comes from several sources. The simple act of washing your car in your driveway allows residual water to run into the storm sewer with detergents, hydrocarbons, and road salt. In Toronto and Calgary it is illegal to wash your car in the driveway..although enforcement is lax.pressure wash boat

Marinas around North America routinely haul their boats out of the water and pressure wash the hulls with the residue being allowed to flow back into the environment. This water can contain hydrocarbons and other pollutants. In Ontario there are over 1,000 marinas, with 1,000,000 boats using our freshwater systems. The marina industry does have regulations to protect the environment…but compliance is mainly voluntary and enforcement is sporadic at best. pressure wash boat2

In Western Canada there are over 800 active drilling rigs. Uncontained water from daily pressure washing and cleaning these rigs leeches directly into the soil, gets into the groundwater and destroys the supply. This industry has the added requirement to pressure wash equipment before it leaves the site to curb the spread of agricultural disease and fungus such as Club Root.pressure wash rig

Other examples of contamination from pressure washing abound in various industries, but what is the answer? All power washing must occur in a closed loop environment. The residual water gets contained and purified before it is returned to the environment. The contaminated materials from the water are collected and disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.  Both fixed and portable units for cleaning, containment, and purification are available. Deployment of these units should be made mandatory.

Kyoto Containment System:

Contamination of our ground water through power washing is insidious..it occurs on virtually every street in North America. It is time the governments, environmentalists, and scientists recognize this threat. Education , legislation, and enforcement will help save our freshwater for future generations.

Safe Beaches with the Swim Guide App.

Ottawa beach Over 22 million Canadians will take a dip in one of our countries lakes or rivers this year. Sadly, some 330,000 will get some form of illness or discomfort because the waters were less than clean.

1.1 trillion litres of bacteria laden sewage  is poured into the natural environment each year. We direct stormwater, agricultural run off, and industrial waste into our waters every day. We pave and develop coastlines , add new structures, and fill in wetlands that filter our water. In 2011 there were 6,189  water quality warnings on Great Lake beaches. People do get sick, kids are growing up without access to beaches, and before you know it a generation will have gone by before the infrastructure is improved. Ottawa Beach 3

Two thirds of all Canadians swim each year. Interestingly, in Alberta, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada 4 in 10 people never swim in a lake or river. These are the same provinces where people are most concerned about water quality. Will these communities pass on the enjoyment of a summer swim in a lake or a concern that the water is dangerous to swim in.

We feel connected to the environment and protective  of our water resources, yet waterways are still being used as dumping grounds. Montreal recently dumped a huge amount of sewage into the St. Lawrence. We can do better than that. Ottawa beach 2

Krystyn Tully of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper started tracking beach water quality and beach closings. After several years of studying beach postings, reviewing water quality, and developing the Water Keeper Swim Guide she realized there was something much worse than a beach advisory. Too often beach advisories disappear ..not because the water improved , but because decision makers turn their backs. Monitoring stops and there are no more bad results. “No Swimming” signs go up, no one can touch the water. Denial and giving up are the biggest failures of all. Let us strive to do better.

With spring around the corner and summer on the horizon  , if you think having an app to guide you as to the quality of local beaches check out and down load the Waterkeeper Swim guide App. This video is a little old , but the app has been updated to include many areas not mentioned..including our local Ottawa beaches.

the Swim Guide..getting started:

you can also check out.. http://www.theswimguide.org

Keeping Tubes Out of Landfills

UV lightUltra violet light is a popular choice to disinfect or eliminate microorganisms. In comparison to chemical treatment of water, UV light is often a safer, more environmentally friendly way to go as long as used or broken lamps are safely discarded.

UV lights need mercury, an extremely toxic chemical element. If old or broken lamps are trashed instead of being properly recycled or treated as hazardous material, mercury is released into the environment and can possibly leach into the soil and water. Many people are not aware of the threat that mercury poses to human, animal, and environmental health. Many people are not aware that their UV bulbs have mercury in them.Uv light2

In Canada we have a few provinces that have government mandated programs for industrial and residential UV lamp recycling. Other provinces have third party non government organizations that take recycling into their own hands.

If you have a UV light in use, please make sure that when the time comes for replacement that your old bulb gets recycled or disposed of properly. Here at Rainsoft Eternally Pure Water Systems in Ottawa  we collect all our clients old bulbs and dispose of them properly.

Recycling of Fluorescent lights: Not the same as a UV light but a good demonstration of what is being done.