Category Archives: Science and Technology

Canada can do better….

NON TOXICFrom an article by Randy Christensen and Elaine MacDonald, Nov/Dec 2015, On the Level, Water Canada. Canadian water guidelines are weaker than those in other jurisdictions. Although having an apparent abundance of fresh water, Canada has considerable quality and quantity concerns. These concerns suggest too little is being done to protect the health and well being of Canadians. Our federal and provincial governments determine the level of allowable contamination in drinking water, known as the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality

The authors did a study (Waterproof Standards 2014), in which they found Canadian guidelines are weaker than those in the USA,the EU,and Australia…and are at risk of becoming weaker. There is also evidence that Canada has no standards for some substances, where others do.  Of great concern is the Federal Provincial Territorial Committee on Drinking Water (CWD) has proposed doubling the allowable level for chromium. Cr-III is an essential nutrient…but Cr-VI is a known human carcinogen and is considered extremely toxic. Cr-VI is the contamination activist Erin Brockovitch exposed, as portrayed by Julie Roberts in the  movie. The CWD’s proposal will put us out of step with our international peers and the World Health Organization (WHO).LEAKY FAUCET

Herbicide 2-4-D has also been detected frequently in surface water across Canada, and is associated with damage to the nervous system, liver and kidneys…and is considered a possible human carcinogen. Other countries have a standard 1.5 to 3 times stronger than the Canadian standard. Canada has no limit for Styrene, another possible human carcinogen, while the USA, Australia, and the WHO have set limits.

Precedent for better protection of Canada’s drinking water exists. We can do better , but our governments must must find the will to defend public health and protect Canada’s drinking water.

Student Ke Shuai wins high praise at World Water Week in Stockholm

For 18 years, Stockholm Junior Water Prize has congregated the world’s most imaginative young minds for an outstanding competition in the capital of Sweden, encouraging their continued interest in water and sustainability issues.

Each year, thousands of participants in over 30 countries all around the globe join national competitions in hopes of earning the chance to represent their nation at the international final held during the World Water Week in Stockholm.

The national and international competitions are open to young people between the ages of 15 and 20 who have conducted water-related projects of proven environmental, scientific, social or technological significance. The projects range from local or regional to national or global topics.
SIWI

CHINESE STUDENT

Chinese student Ke Shuai wins high praise at World Water Week event

STOCKHOLMStockholm, Sweden 

The following youtube video, was published on Aug 24, 2015 by New China TV, It’s not the whims of a 15-year-old, Ke Shuai.  Instead, it’s his UAV water quality monitoring project that has stirred a sensation at World Water Week.  And it caught the attention of experts.  UAV is the short form for unmanned aerial vehicle.        

                                                                      

SWP-Sculpture-1

Stockholm Water Prize celebrates
its Silver Jubilee

To celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Stockholm Water Prize, we’ve created a video that sums up 25 years of honouring extraordinary water achievements. Since 1991, the Stockholm Water Prize Laureates have represented a broad range of water-related activities, professions and scientific disciplines from all over the world. Watch and share the video!

http://siwi-mediahub.creo.tv/prizes-and-awards/stockholm-water-prize/stockholm_water_prize_celebrates_its_silver_jubilee

Is Ottawa Still Doing This in 2015? – Alarming!!!

2015 – Ottawa is still dumping raw sewage into the Ottawa River and for some time the toxins have been getting into our drinking water!!!

The following excerpts are from an article from GREG WESTON, QMI AGENCY, entitled, |”Canada Is Full of Crap”, reposted today, May 5, 2015.  While Olympic ads are pitching Canada to the world as a land of vast beauty and pristine waters, a damning internal government report describes a country that’s full of crap. Literally. Hard to imagine in the 21st century, but a federal environmental study has found almost 400 cities and towns across the country are flushing their raw sewage directly into lakes, rivers and the ocean…The water communities are using as an open sewer is what they – and hundreds of others – use for drinking, bathing and food preparation…
How bad are the worst 399?
Apparently they are even more polluting than the nation’s capital, and Ottawa’s record is truly disgusting. In one incident, the city released over 700 million litres of raw sewage into the Ottawa River just in one nine-day period. Ottawa isn’t even on the list of the country’s worst offenders. It’s time the poop hits the fan and not the nearest river.

Ottawa Separated Sewage System?
DRY AND WET WEATHERMERITS AND DEMERITS LISTSEWERAGE SYSTEM
SEPARATE SEWER CROPPEDSeparating raw sewage from storm water may not be as easy as it appears, nor may it always be a practical solution.
Ottawa’s director of water and wastewater services, Dixon Weir, told the Sun that on a dry day in the nation’s capital 100% of the raw sewage residents create is treated.
COMBINED SEWER CROPPEDOn a wet and rainy day, when the city’s combined sewer operation is at capacity and handling not only raw sewage but storm water as well, the combined sewer operation system is capable of capturing and treating 99% of the raw sewage and storm water mixture, while the remaining 1% empties into the Ottawa River untreated.
The overflows into the river are built to prevent the system from backing up onto city streets or into basements.
Untreated runoff:DEMERITS
Weir said if the city decides to separate the raw sewage from storm water – which also carries contaminants, including E. coli- it wouldn’t be able to capture and treat any of the contaminated storm water.
SETTLING POND
In community developments built in the past 30 to 40 years, there are about 150 massive settling ponds where storm runoff sits and naturally cleanses itself before discharging into the river.
WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT OTTAWAOttawa would be able to direct all sewage to a wastewater treatment plant, but none of the storm water collected in older neighbourhoods – containing animal and bird feces as well as other substances like lawn and garden fertilizers- would be treated.
WESTBORO BEACHFor example, Ottawa’s Westboro Beach had consistently high levels of E.coli and been closed 20 days this summer – more than any other city beach – but that neighbourhood has a separated sewer system.
LAST PARA“It would be obvious to say that a separated system would be the best solution, but that may not be true,” said Weir.
– Derek Puddicombe

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Warka Water ~ capture safe drinking water from the air

It remains to be seen whether a full-size unit will draw as much water as the company esti...

Warka Water promises to harness safe drinking water from the air: 

As water shortage is a serious issue in many parts of the world, a means of efficiently harnessing safe drinking water from thin air without the need of expensive infrastructure could be a real lifesaver. Italy’s Architecture and Vision is developing an off-grid bamboo tower called Warka Water that promises just that: the firm says it could collect an annual average of up to 100 liters (26.4 US gallons) of water per day.

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The tower is rated as lasting up to 10 years and will require that locals are trained in order to maintain it successfully       

The current stage of the work-in-progress Warka Water prototype, by Italian firm Architect...
The current stage of the work-in-progress Warka Water prototype, by Italian firm Architecture and Vision

The basic concept behind Warka Water seems fairly sound, however the success of Warka Wate...

Once completed, Warka Water will rise to a height of 10 m (33 ft), weigh 60 kg (132 lb), and be secured to the ground with eight guide ropes. The tower consists of a lightweight woven bamboo structure, while an inner plastic mesh retains water droplets from passing fog, which fall into a collector and a large tank. Any rainwater and overnight dew also collects in the tank.

The video below shows a little more information on the project.

Warka Water will sport a canopy that offers shade to people drawing the collected water, and a series of rotating mirrors which Architecture and Vision says will be sufficient to keep birds away. No electricity is required for any part of the passive water-harnessing process, and the firm says the bamboo structure will take six people four days to construct. On-site assembly should take four people just three hours, without the need for cranes or any other building machinery.

If you'd like to take a punt on the Warka Water vision, as of writing the Kickstarter camp...

It’s going to be a long road until that point, though. The essential idea behind Warka Water appears sound, but its success will hinge on overcoming a long list of other concerns, including the quantity and quality of water drawn, the structure’s durability, and cost. Though rated as lasting up to 10 years, it will require locals to be trained and made responsible for maintenance, and while the estimated cost of under US$1,000 may seem relatively cheap compared to standard water supply infrastructure, it’s still a lot of dough for an impoverished area.

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It also remains to be seen if it could harness as much water as the company estimates – and on this note we’d encourage all-due skepticism. Indeed, though Architecture and Vision has produced a small working prototype, the first full-scale field test won’t take place until the necessary funds have been raised by a recently-launched Kickstarter campaign, and it won’t be suitable for all areas.

“It is first and foremost an architecture project. WW should not be considered as the solution to all water problems in developing countries but rather as a tool that can provide clean water in selected areas,” says the firm. “Particularly in mountainous regions where conventional pipelines will never reach and where water is not available from wells.”

It remains to be seen whether a full-size unit will draw as much water as the company esti...

If you’d like to try and help the team overcome these hurdles, as of writing its Kickstarter campaign still has 18 days to go. Raised funds will go toward developing a working unit, and promised rewards include Warka Water-related apparel, and a scale model. If all goes well, Architecture and Vision will eventually seek further donations for Warka Water units to be installed in select locations in Ethiopia, before potentially rolling out the system worldwide.

 

Win a trip to Kennedy Space Center

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MAGAZINE LOGOAstronomy Magazine & Kennedy Space Center Sweepstakes —
Total Prize Value: $6,425!

Win round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, and admission to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for four including a behind-the-scenes tour, lunch with an astronaut, and a meteorite collectible.
Open only to residents of the USA and Canada (except Quebec).

CENTER4  CENTER1    CENTER5

HURRY! Enter Sweepstakes
– before November 30th.

http://sciencecontests.secondstreetapp.com/Win-a-trip-to-the-Kennedy-Space-Center/Enter

IMAGE1Each year, more than 1.4 million guests from around the world experience their own space adventure by exploring the past, present and future of America’s space program at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. This Visitor Complex opened on August 1, 1967 in response to public interest and demand to see our space program up close. This was at the time NASA was preparing to launch the first astronauts to the moon. In 1995 Delaware North Parks and Resorts, Inc. began managing the 70-acre facility. They have redeveloped and enhanced this facility to make it one of Central Florida’s most popular tourist destinations. KSC visitor complex offers IMAX films, live shows, hands-on-activities, behind the scenes tours, lunch with an astronaut, and its newest attraction, The Shuttle Launch Experience. The facility offers great shopping, dining, education programs, and sometimes even launches, and it is entirely self-supported. It receives no taxpayer or government funding.

CENTER5Excellent overview of Center link ~ http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/feature/KennedySpaceCenter-122607.cfm

Good luck to all who enter.

Have a scare-riffic Halloween and great weekend!

 fireghost FIREY LETTERS

Hayley Todesco, Calgary Alta, wins Stockholm Water Prize

Hayley Todesco, 18, spent two years developing filters that use sand and bacteria to de-toxify oilsands tailings. Much of her work was done in the lab of University of Calgary professor Lisa Gieg, who provided the bacteria and the tailings.

Part 2 ~ “Hayley Todesco wins Google Science Fair”. Please see last Friday’s blog for Part 1 

~ The following article was posted on worldwaterweek.org, Sept. 3, 2014

VICTORIA HANDS ‘JUNIOR WATER PRIZE’ TO CANADIAN

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden presented the v to Hayley Todesco from Canada for inventing a method that uses sand filters to treat oil contaminated water and recover water for reuse.The award ceremony Wednesday was part of the World Water Week in Stockholm.

Waterprijs

The winning entry is a new application of an old water treatment technology that dates back to 1804.  Sand filters have traditionally been used to treat drinking water, however Hayley Todesco   used slow sand filters on contaminated water in oil sands tailing ponds instead… “This year’s winning project addresses a neglected but pressing environmental issue. The entry displays genuine outside the box thinking. Hundreds of hours of self-driven effort achieved a project that excelled in all judging criteria,” the Jury said in its citation. 

“I am shocked but so grateful. I got the idea of using sand filters from a pen pal in Namibia two years ago, and started testing them on wastewater in a tank at home. Now I have just started studying to become a microbiologist and I hope to spend a great deal of time in the lab to continue developing the method”, Hayley Todesco said.

About Stockholm Junior Water Prize

The competition is open to young people between the age of 15 and 20 who have conducted water-related projects at local, regional, national or global levels on topics of environmental, scientific, social and/or technological importance. The aim of the competition is to increase awareness, interest and knowledge of water and the environment. As of this year the board of SIWI has decided to increase the prize sum to the winners and also to institute a new prize. The international winner will from now on receive a USD 15,000 award and a prize sculpture, the winner’s school receives USD 5,000 (new category)…

Hayley Todesco wins Canadian Google Science Fair

Part 1 of  2,  Calgary’s Hayley Todesco wins Canadian Google Science Fair prize

The following excerpt is from, “Filters made from sand and bacteria clean toxic oilsands tailings 14 times faster” posted to CBC News, July 11, 2014, by Emily Chung.

Hayley Todesco, 18, spent two years developing filters that use sand and bacteria to de-toxify oilsands tailings. Much of her work was done in the lab of University of Calgary professor Lisa Gieg, who provided the bacteria and the tailings.

A young woman from Calgary has invented a faster way to clean up toxic waste generated by oilsands extraction, using filters made from sand and bacteria. The new technology has made Hayley Todesco, 18, the Google Science Fair’s regional winner for Canada, Google announced in a news release this week…Todesco says that based on her research, her technique could break down toxic compounds found in oilsands tailings 14 times more quickly than letting them sit, stored in tailings ponds as they mainly are now.

“The significance of these results is the discovery of a sustainable way to decrease the detoxification of tailings ponds from centuries to decades,” she wrote in a summary posted on the Google Science Fair website.

Watch Hayley Todesco’s video about her project Tailings ponds occupied about 176 square kilometres in 2010 or roughly the area of B.C.’s Saltspring Island, according to the environmental think-tank the Pembina Institute. That area is expected to grow to 250 square kilometres by 2020…

Todesco said that having been born and raised in Alberta, she was very aware of this pollution problem. She was trying to think of a science fair project that would help solve it, when she thought back to a demonstration in her Grade 5 class. The class had been raising money to send filters to Africa for drinking water, and a guest speaker helped the students make some from pop bottles and sand. “We put muddy water in the top and it came out totally clean,” Todesco said. When she remembered that, she added, “That’s kind of when I had my eureka moment.”

li-syncrude-620-cp301940A tailings pond reflects the Syncrude oilsands mine facility near Fort McMurray. Such ponds of toxic waste are expected to cover 250 square kilometres by 2020. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Todesco was also interested in biology and bioreactors that use bacteria to break down waste, so she decided to make a bioreactor that incorporated sand, similar to devices invented to clean European sewage in the 19th century. Todesco wanted it to break down naphthenic acid, a major toxic component of oilsands tailings…Lisa Gieg, an assistant professor in biological sciences at the university, agreed to let Todesco work in her lab with the bacteria and tailings they had already collected. Because it was a biology lab, they didn’t have much in the way of supplies for building filters, but they did offer her some tubing…Todesco then began work designing the filters, using aquarium sand, empty IV bags, and other materials she picked up at hardware and dollar stores. Initially, to speed things up, she hooked her system up to a fountain pump from Home Depot, which promptly caused it to overflow…“A few months of work was basically ruined when I turned it on,” she said. “Building and engineering was definitely the hardest part.”

It took her seven months and about 120 tries with different designs to get a working system, which relied on gravity to pull oilsands tailings through sand topped with a film of bacteria in IV bags. In all, it took two years to complete the project, including the experiment and the analysis – she checked naphthenic acid levels in about 100 samples using the lab’s gas chromatograph. Each sample was prepared for analysis in an hour-long procedure that included several minutes of vigorous shaking…In addition to going into the lab for three or four hours after school, she spent her March Breaks there and also missed lots of her Grade 12 classes at Queen Elizabeth Junior Senior High School, which her teachers later allowed her to make up. So it was with much anticipation that she stayed up late to see if her efforts and labour would get recognized by the Google Science Fair regional judges. The regional winners were quietly disclosed online at 1 a.m. ET on June 26.

“I like freaked out and woke my sister up and it was great,” Todesco said. “This is really the height of my recognition for all the work that I’ve done.”

The global finalists will be announced Aug. 6, and will have a chance to compete for prizes including a $50,000 scholarship, a trip to the Virgin Galactic spaceport and a trip to the Galapagos Islands.

Hayley TodescoHayley Todesco
Hayley Todesco, 18, has just finished Grade 12 at Queen Elizabeth Junior/Senior High School in Calgary. (Courtesy of Google)

WATER DROPLET1_FOR BLOG ICONPlease see our followup blog next Friday ~ “Hayley Todesco, Calgary Alta, wins Stockholm Water Prize”