Tag Archives: Calgary

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.

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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)…

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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”

WHY DEVELOP AND POPULATE FLOOD PLAINS AREAS?

The following is a an article in WaterCanada July/Aug 2013 issue ~ Life on the Flood Plains
Why does development continue in areas of risk?

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IN JUNE, roughly 100,000 people in Calgary and southern Alberta found themselves displaced during what the government called the worst flood in the province’s history. Though the extent of the damage will not be fully realized for months, reports have suggested the costs could be close to $5 billion.

At the recent Canadian Water Summit, held in Calgary just days after the flooding, experts suggested that many areas of Canada have significant, comprehensive, and historic data about climate variability and flood plains. So why does a natural event have to cause so much extensive damage?

The simple answer might be that, despite the available information, we continue to develop in flood plains. At the summit, consultant Lisa Maria Fox showed a photo of knee-deep relief workers downtown. The backdrop? A large billboard advertising condos with a dream waterfront view.

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What’s the solution? Short of ceasing development on properties we deem valuable, municipalities can require developers to have homebuyers sign a covenant stating they understand the risk. Chilliwack, British Columbia has bylaws to this effect. One Calgarian summit participant said she had no idea she lived in a flood plain until the flood happened, so another person suggested street signs in key areas indicating what to do in case of flood, since, in many cases, people are not aware of the risk.

RIVER OF LIGHT CELEBRATION ~ ALBERTA, CANADA

WEB SITE COLLAGE

RIVER OF LIGHT LOGOShifting and evolving as it travels to rivers throughout the world, the River of Light has gained local and international recognition through its ability to not only engage communities to participate in the work, but also to highlight the importance of river preservation and water conversation on a global scale.  The River of Light is a world touring art installation by Creatmosphere that combines floating lights, sound and new technologies to celebrate the rivers of the world through public art.

River of Light Art project on the Bow River in Calgary August 2010, Artist: Laurent Louyer.  Photo slideshow to start with video clip of colour changes starting at 1:31 and then a few more images.  Music by Roger Subiranan Mata, “Point of No Return”, available through a creative commons license on http://www.jemendo

RED DEER RIVER2013 marks the 100th birthday of the City of Red Deer and to celebrate this the Red Deer River will become the territory and stage for a series of daylight sculptural and sound installations and night-time light and video interventions that aim to create new Points of View for the community to discover and engage with their city and river.

Web: www.riveroflight.org
The River of Lights: Points of View has been commissioned by the
Central Alberta Historical Society for the Red Deer City Centennial.

Associated link ~http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/river-of-light

THE TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT

The following excerpts are taken from WaterCanada’s July/August issue of, “The Trickle-Down Effect” – Industry, agriculture, and government have voices about water in Alberta. But who speaks for the environment’s needs? by Susan R. Eaton

“Heralded as the economic growth engine of Canada, Alberta has recently discovered that its most strategic resource may not be subsurface oil and gas reserves. Perhaps more critical to future economic development will be the existence of abundant and predictable quantities of water. As the prairie province deals with water allocation for a burgeoning population and expanding industrial sectors – oil sands, agriculture, petrochemicals and power generation – it is feeling the impacts of climate change, including droughts, destructive floods, and reduced contributions from rapidly receding mountain glaciers that feed Alberta’s waterways and aquifers…”

Uploaded by on Dec 7, 2007 – A TV SPOT in a series for the United Nations Canada Water for Life initiative. The Bow River Basin Council and the Oldman Watershed Council are providing leadership and solutions to how water is conserved and protected.  Visit thinkwater.ca for more information.


 “In August 2006, four of five rivers in southern Alberta’s South Saskatchewan River Basin were closed to new water withdrawals, due to over-allocation by the provincial regulator.

In northern Alberta, oil sands companies continue to seek increased allocations from the Athabasca River to support their rapidly expanding, water-intensive bitumen mining and upgrading operations. Current withdrawals may have already compromised the river’s healthy inflow capacity during the low-flow fall and winter months… Critics accuse the Alberta government of approving amendments to senior water licence agreements—often without public input—and of diverting unused volumes of water to third parties, for purposes other than originally intended and to the detriment of Alberta’s waterways. The Province created its Water Act in 2000, legislating, for the first time, the monetization—through the sale, transfer, or carving up of senior water rights—of Alberta’s water resources… Andy Ridge is the director of water policy for Alberta’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development…”

Uploaded by  on Mar 23, 2010 -A short video that explains the upcoming water allocation review. Please visit us http://www.water-matters.org/program/share-the-water

“Water mastery Ridge says, when it comes to meeting that water needs of Alberta’s diverse stakeholders, “it’s always circumstance specific.” “We apply water mastery when there’s an issue,” says Ridge. “Water mastery” is his term to describe the Province’s balancing act of meeting the water needs—current and future. “In tough times, we get involved to ensure that everyone is less harmed,” says Ridge. But tough times have existed for more than a decade in southern Alberta, where the Province has ordered junior water holders to reduce or stop water withdrawals, enabling “first in time, first in right” senior holders to maintain their draws… In 2010, the Province approved a request for an amendment of the City of Calgary’s senior license to divert treated wastewater to a new gas-fired power plant  being built nearby by ENMAX Corporation. In 2007, the Province approved  an amendment to the City of Edmonton’s water senior license, enabling it to sell  wastewater to Petro- Canada Ltd. (now Suncor Energy Inc.) for use in heavy oil  upgrading operations east of the city. In both instances, Donahue explains, the  amendments of senior water licences resulted in negative benefits to Calgary’s  Bow River and to Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River, as wastewater was  diverted for industrial purposes and not returned to the river systems. He adds  that Petro-Canada and ENMAX avoided costly public environmental hearings and  idn’t have to apply for low priority, junior water licenses.   Return it to the  rivers For the past decade, the City of Calgary has encouraged its residents to  conserve water, even providing financial incentives to purchase low flush toilets  and install water meters. However, Calgarians who believed they were  contributing to improving the aquatic health and trout habitat of the Bow River—  billed by Travel Alberta as the world’s premier trout fishing stream – might be  surprised to learn that the water conserved had been sold for industrial users or to  ther municipalities in southern Alberta… The Calgary-based Water  Conservation Trust of Canada is working  toward ensuring conserved water gets  back to the stream…The Trust’s mandate revolves around holding water  conservation licenses. However, according to Ridge, “The concept of a license  that’s being held for the environment – that’s what the Water Conservation Trust  of Canada is promoting – is contained in the Water Act.” To date, only the Province  olds these conservation licenses in trust, but the Water Act doesn’t  specifically prohibit other groups from doing so, too. Just as Alberta’s  homesteaders developed the province in the early 1900s, Bell, a native Albertan, is  ioneering a new vision for prosperity which includes an innovative tool to  achieve the healthy aquatic ecosystems contemplated within the provincial Water  Act. “We’ve spent six years breaking trail,” said Bell, “and we’re close to a  breakthrough.”

Water as a Limited Resource

Got Thirst? Will Alberta’s Water Law leave you high and dry?