Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Quest for Cleaner Water in the St. Lawrence Seaway

panamx5A few years ago New York proposed tough new standards for ballast water treatment aboard west bound ships that sail through the locks at Massena. They are looking to eliminate the risk of foreign species traveling to inland waterways, for  instance the lamprey eel.panamax 2

Ships with lighter loads require ballast water for efficiency and control. These lighter loads cause a ship to ride higher in the water, possibly with sections of propeller  and rudder out of the water.panamax3

Stricter ballast water standards require that the present Seaway-max ships that travel upstream of Montreal, exchange their water at the Port of Valleyfield. The Seaway-max days may be numbered as the new generation of Panamax 2 ship carries 4x the number of shipping containers, eating up 1/3 the fuel , with the same numbers of crew. With this size comes a deeper draft, and river accessibility for 300 kilometres east of Montreal. After opposition to the huge dredging operation rose , the Panamax -2’s will have to operate on part load between Quebec City and Montreal. The offloading will then affect the number of containers river ships will be needed to carry.Panamax

As new river ships are designed and built options can be builtin to minimize or even eliminate the need for ballast. There is new maritime technology that can adjust the height of the propulsion and steering systems  relative to the water surface.  The azipod mechanism combines the swivel steering of an outboard boat motor, with an electrically powered propeller. Even with a light load , the propeller will ride at a depth of several meters and be efficient and under directional control.AzipodAzipod 2




Essentially , we are looking to be ballast free , denying access of foreign species up our river systems.


University of Michigan : Ballast free ship design.





Waste Water…What is New?

waste water 1 Waste water treatment is probably not that high in the public’s consciousness ….until it goes badly…so what is being done today to ensure we stay on top of this situation?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In order to push forward waste water technologies ,having access to waste water treatment plants has in the past been a bit of a barrier. Getting new products or innovations tested in real life situations is crucial to virtually any scenario, including how to deal with waste water.waste water2

Once it was difficult to gain access to municipal waste water plants…building relationships, getting ministry approvals, find space , electrical considerations, and plumbing. Many hurdles to be jumped in order to get a technology to market.

The good news is that over the past decade several facilities have come on line that offer the opportunity for industry and researchers to access waste water in active treatment plants. There are now facilities in London, Guelph, Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton. The public probably don’t think of it too much ,but there has been a real shift in waste water treatment towards biosolid reduction and processes like nutrient and biogas recovery.waste water5

Each site has it’s own strengths and focus, allowing users to access a broad range of waste water scenario’s. Industry and researchers are given access to real time municipal waste water at various flow rates and process streams, allowing users to install test, demonstrate, and validate new waste water treatment technologies. Waste water treatment plants are specialized tools that are not easy to come by , but now access to real life test tracks  are possible. New products can now be more easily demonstrated to clients, clients become more educated, and the product more effectively marketed.waste water 4

By providing cutting edge infrastructure and equipment, we are ensuring that Canada stays at the fore front waste water technology innovation.  Thanks to all that are making sure that waste water management is something we in Canada don’t have to think about too much.

Ottawa Lemieux Island Water Treatment Plant. Part 1 and 2


Why We Should Celebrate the World’s Oceans this Earth Day

world earth dayToday, April 22, 2016,  is World Earth Day. We should be celebrating the World’s Ocean this Earth Day because the Governments have made impressive steps to protect them…with more to be done.

In many areas governments large or small are taking steps to protect the world’s oceans. Research has shown that prohibiting fishing in large fully protected marine reserves is critical to rebuilding species abundance and diversity and protecting the overall health of the marine environment. In the last 18 months 1.5 million sq. miles of ocean has been protected. Governments taking action are as diverse as the USA, the British, New Zealand, Chile, Netherlands, and earth day 2

The Ocean’s belong to no one and so it is heartening to see the U.N. General Assembly has agreed to begin negotiations that could lead to marine reserves on the high seas, and a 5 country pact to refrain from fishing the Arctic Ocean’s international waters until science concludes that it won’t harm the ecosystem. Earth Day 3

These are positive developments to be celebrated, movement in the right direction. However, considering that 72% of the Earth is covered by water, scientist’s say that in order to help the ocean’s deal with the pressures we put on it we need to set aside 30% in marine parks. With these latest steps, how ever good we have protected only 2%.

More needs to be done.

Save Earth Save Ourselves: Earth Day 2016


Flint: A Follow Up

what is in it?

what is in it?

When the Flint , Michigan water crisis first hit we wrote a blog about it. The story is not going away, so let’s take a look at what is going on today.

Criminal charges have been filed against 3 men, possible prison time awaits. This is a milestone in the development of this crisis that has been years in the making, harmed thousands and cast a harse spotlight on the infrastructure issues across the country. According to the State Attorney General these charges are only the beginning…”no one is above the law”.

Flint Water Crisis Officials Appear in Court:

To recap, two years ago in a move to save money, the state switched Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the notorious Flint River. Michigan’s Dept. of Environmental Quality failed to treat the corrosive water properly…with the eventual leaching of lead into the drinking water. Flint Water

One group of investigators has concluded that the government failed at every level to protect the citizens of Flint. The three presently charged are from a relatively low level. Accusations include, misleading federal regulatory officials, manipulating water sampling, and tampering with reports, and more.

The State made the decision to switch the water, yet city officials were involved with treating the water. Over 50 lawsuits have been filed. One class action lawsuit states that residents have suffered skin lesions, hair loss, vision loss, memory loss, depression , and anxiety. there are also concerns about miscarriages, imminent learning disabilities, and Legionnaires Disease.Flint Water 2

It has been months since this story broke yet Flint’s water supply is still not safe. Lead contamination levels still exceed guidelines. Residents are still drinking bottles water, and using filters to wash their hands, …and hoping they are not being poisoned by the shower. SHOWER

Heads are staring to roll, how many and how far the investigation will go is yet to be determined. It is the people of Flint who will have suffered the most and will continue to suffer moving forward. How much trust  do you have in your own local water supply?

Erin Brockovich Explains the Flint Water Crisis:

From Industrial to Oasis

stormwater1 Storm water management for businesses is getting an interesting new take in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) With nine million people  and nine watersheds the once excellent storm water system is stressed. Different approaches to managing storm water are being looked at.

Partners in Project Green, a group within the Toronto Region Conservation Authority is working with private companies  to adopt lot level storm water management techniques, and get low impact technologies to the industrial, commercial, and institutional sectors.

The storm sewer infrastructure in the GTA is under stress from many factors from numbers of people to climate change. Not surprisingly there appears to be some quality concerns like total phosphorous, E. coli, and more. There is a movement underfoot to address these issues at the lot level with green roofs, rainwater harvesting,  and low impact development technologies including permeable pavement , rain gardens and bioswales.storm2

PPG got involved with Calstone Inc. a furniture manufacturer, who with assistance from PPG got help scaling up to a 9,300 litre rainwater harvesting tank., three infiltration ponds,  and a recycled materials walkway.

After  the first phase of construction , 4 of the 6 downspouts from Calstone’s roof were disconnected and turned to feed the harvesting tank and in turn the ponds. The second phase included landscaping with drought resistant grasses , shrub, and trees.stormwater3

This is such a unique approach that much will be learned from. Evaluating the project will lead to information that can be used to guide future similar situations. Since the project came online 1.8 million litres of rainwater has been diverted from the sewers. In the final phase the remaining downspouts will be diverted into an expanded system, including  a permeable pavement parking lot. In the end this showcase will capture 100% of their roof rain water and have removed themselves from the municipal water supply through water reuse projects within their facility.

What a great new look at storm water management!

Using Trees and Soils in Stormwater Management: A Webinar.


Inspired by Water Canada May/ June 2015 From Industrial to Oasis by Eric Melton and Alyssa Cerbu. The pictures and video are not from the project but give a mere representation and information.

World Vision Canada and Water

World Vision 1In this blog we would like to feature World Vision Canada and highlight some important programs they have and how you can support them.

Over 663 million people do not have access to adequate sanitation. World Vision works with communities to prevent illness and death through simple interventions, including the provision of clean water, proper sanitation, and hygiene education. 2 million people have been reached with improved water access-a 10 fold increase from 5 years ago. 278,295 people have benefitted from constructed or rehabilitated water points for household use. 218,956 people have been educated on sanitation and hygiene.  These are all achievements made possible thanks to the generous support of World Vision Donors in Vision 2

World Vision also has Canadian programs you can get involved with. There are 56 projects impacting child poverty in 6 cities across Canada. 250 leaders have been trained and equipped. 69,000 children have been reached through partnerships with 101 community based organizations and churches. This has all been made possible by the generous support of World Vision Canada donors in 2015.

Due to our interest in water at Rainsoft, we would like to draw your attention to their Clean Water Program. Millions of children miss school days because they are either collecting water or sick from water borne illnesses. World Vision has decades of experience providing clean water to children and their communities, seeing first hand the amazing transformations clean water can bring.

Can you help a child get clean water? Check out the World Vision web site to find out how…

World Vision: Well Water Commercial:


The Ontario Ground Water Association

ground water pumpApproximately 3 million in Ontario rely on ground water as their primary source of potable water. Ground water is often the only source of clean water for drinking , farming , and manufacturing. A number of municipalities rely on ground water as the major source for their citizens drinking water. For those of you who have a well get to know the Ontario Ground Water Association(OGWA). They are dedicated to protecting and promoting Ontario’s most precious resource…ground water. The OGWA was created as a non profit in 1952 to facilitate the various sectors of the ground water industry coming together for the delivery of safe and clean water supplies throughout the province.well drill

Well Drillers, Environmental/ Geotechnical Drillers, Pump Installers, Manufacturers and Suppliers,  and Scientists and Engineers make up the 5 divisions of ground water professionals. If you are in need of the services of a ground water pro this organization’s directory could be a good place to start your searchRAINSOFT

The OGWA website has content rich resource section. Great info on associations, government, links to further info , and research are available.  The Well Wise Testing page is a good one to review. You can download information on rural well water testing packages, why test your water, and what should I test for?News letters and annual events are also offered.

… if ground water is important to you get to know the OGWA and the services they have for you.





Water Is….

RAINSOFTWater is emerging as one of the single most important resources of planet Earth. Already scarce in many areas, it has become the new “gold” to be bought , coveted, cherished, hoarded, and abused worldwide. It is currently being traded on the Stock Exchange.Nina

Water Nina Munteanu

On sale May 2016 at Amazon, Chapters, Barnes and Noble, and other quality bookstores. Internationally published author, teacher, and limnologist Nina Munteanu explores one of the most important substances of Earth. Part History , part science, and part philosophy, Water Is… combines her personnel journey, as a limnologist, mother, artist, and ecologist– with scientific discovery that explores water’s many identities..and ultimately our own.

What does water mean to you?

The Meaning of Writing and Water :with author Nina Munteanu

for more information on Nina check out the website




First Nations Water..a way forward.

first nation4 This year the Port Severn First Nation community will realize a milestone…for the first time in more than two years they will be able to turn on the tap and simply drink the water, without having to boil it first. As of March 20th, 2015, 20% of First Nati0ns were on a drinking water advisory. some experiencing this for years. In the case of the Port Severn First Nations they have modern equipment and facilities, but still faced water advisories. The problem was the lack of skilled operators and the need for help from outside to oversee and assist in the management of the drinking water. Compounding the situation was the remoteness of the communities, especially in winter. It takes time to get in or out.first nation 5

There are no local labs to test the water. Simple testing could be a challenge….and more time, meanwhile the communities would be vulnerable to contaminated water.

Federal government programs although well intention, quite often we not able to be tailored to a specific situation, and every situation was and is specific.First Nation

2015 brought some great change. At the Keewaytinook Centre of Excellence, a world class water operator training facility in Dryden, Ontario native chiefs envisioned the Safe Water Project. This Project has 3 components, training, operational support, and water monitoring. Community members complete training to be certified water operators. As these graduates become operational it is important that they receive support from fully licensed and certified water operators to assist in deepening their skills. Under the third component the local operators and operational support use industry leading water monitoring technology to test the water on a continual basis. Real time data is used to detect adverse issues immediately.first nation 6

The Safe Water Project has proven to be successful for the Port Severn First Nations, perhaps this can be developed into a larger project benefiting more First Nations.

Ontario’s First Nations Water Woes: Angus Toulouse/Steve Paikin