Tag Archives: Cumberland

What Is The Hydrologic Cycle?

Simple enough question…but what is it?water Cycle

Since the beginning of time water has been a constant in quantity and motion. Little has been gained or lost over the eons. water cycle1

The Hydrologic Cycle begins with Evaporation: As water evaporates from the Oceans and Lakes it cools , condenses and forms clouds. Moisture is thus transported around the globe  until it is returned in the form of Precipitation. Once on the ground two things occur, evaporation and or the water may penetrate the earth to become groundwater. Groundwater then seeps it’s way back into the lakes ,rivers and oceans, or gets back into the atmosphere through Transpiration. Transpiration is water being absorbed in plants/trees and evaporates into the environment from there. The balance of water that remains on earth’s surface becomes runoff which ends up in the streams, lakes ,rivers , and oceans…and the cycle begins again.

The Hydrologic Cycle

Water Robots…

With the increasing sophistication of robots and artificial intelligence ..in evidence self driving cars and robots able to defeat humans at complex logic games, what is their future in the management of water?robot1

First up, we have the PureRobotics  crawler, designed to navigate , inspect and monitor water main pipes. Through the use of scanners and lasers it can measure pipe size and corrosion levels. it has the capacity to provide us real time data in hd. It can not repair, but provides a safe and accurate inspection.robot1

Removing lead from water. A research team at the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems has a proof of concept  graphene based micro bot capable of removing lead from water. Hundreds of these mini robots(15-20 microns in length), are said to remove lead in water from 1,000ppb to 50ppb in 60 minutes. The tubular shaped bots have layers that treat the water , the cleaned water ejected out the back to propel it through the water.

Professors at LSU identified a problem of bird predation at catfish farms. Fish farmers were having to resort to poisons or shooting birds to combat the birds agressively looking for lunch. A solar powered boat was developed that has cameras, GPS, and a software program that detects the presence of birds and moves accordingly. They can also track water temps, and dissolved oxygen which are two factors that have a direct impact on aquatic life.

Bird Control Lasers:

Venice’s famous waterways face pollution. Scientists there are developing, a long term system of automated swarm bots. These bots will collect temperature, salinity, pH, and particle data. There are three types of robots..aMussels, afish, and aPads. The design of these robots is inspired by their namesakes, as evolution has provided them with a physical character to deal with their environment. The aPads robot acts as a docking station, where the fish and mussels can dock, recharge , and communicate their findings.

A swarm of One Thousand Robots:

In the unmanned surface vehicle category a Chinese company has developed a USV that monitors water quality. and can produce a water quality map in real time. At only 20 cms in length it is easily deployable when responding to emergency spill accidents or rough weather. It also  has various probes and ultrasonic sensors to detect physical obstacles.

A long range endurance marine unmanned surface vehicle:

These are just a few of the cutting edge technowledgies that are out there. Science will be a huge determining factor in how we manage water moving forward.


World Ocean Day.

Healthy Oceans ,Healthy Planet is the theme for this year’s World Oceans Day.  ocean picture 3 This year’s unofficial holiday is not just about enjoying beaches , but also respecting the Earth’s aquatic resources. This year we are urged toward eliminating plastic pollution.

The World Economic Forum put out a report in January that shows that by 2050, there could be more plastic in our oceans(by weight) than fish. As much as 165 million tons of the stuff is thought to be floating around right now. Most plastic is not biodegradeable, and a great majority of it is not being recycled effectively , thus the great amount of dumpage.ocean plasticocean plastic2

Here are six ways to cut down of the amount of plastic waste….

  1. Buy Beer: Saltwater Brewery of Florida has created a packaging that is edible to animals in the sea and on the land. Sadly, it is not unusual for animals to get the plastic rings, that are often used for packaging,  caught up and choke or get stuck in them. We have all most likely seen pictures of this already.
  2. Drink Water Differently: Use refillable water bottles. We will save money and create less waste.
  3. Shop ’til You Drop: Plastic bags can get caught around sea animals necks or in their digestive tracks. Bring Cloth bags when you shop.
  4. Pick It Up: Join in on a litter pick up day in your area.
  5. Leave No Trace: Remember the old adage” take nothing ,but pictures..leave nothing, but footprints”.
  6. Other Was to Help: Eat sustainable seafood. Eat fish or crustaceans that are caught in such a way as to preserve their populations. Sustainable fish farms are very conscience of pollution and disease.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   worldoceansday.org

Groundwater Management in Quebec.

Canadian provinces are becoming aware of the need to manage groundwater. ground water pumpSince 2008 the provincial government in Quebec and the Quebec Groundwater Network have worked together to understand the resource and have a science based approach to it. A program was launched to answer critical questions with respect to the resources sustainability.


  1. Where does the water come from and where does it go?
  2. Is it safe and what is it’s quality?
  3. What is the nature of the aquifer that contains it?
  4. How much groundwater is there?
  5. Is it vulnerable to human activity?


Anatomy of an Aquifer:

By 2015 most of the aquifers in southern Quebec have been characterized. Two factors helped ensure that the information generated would bw useful to water managers. First, efforts were coordinated and similar protocols established. Secondly, groups carrying out the work were required to get funding from water stakeholders….so now the water managers had an interest in the work. Aquifer

Many meetings were held throughout the process and a groundwater knowledge exchange strategy was developed. A survey of 50 water managers revealed that the lack of hydrogeological knowledge was the primary obstacle to the implementation of groundwater protection and management. To address this challenge the researchers knowledge exchange strategy was implemented by the QGN. The promotion of progressive learning of aquifer understanding and ground water management issues relevant to each area is the key. Aquifer2

Moving forward the challenge will be to maintain the network of scientists, local managers, and governments that produces and uses the scientific knowledge in order to ensure the sustainable management of groundwater for generations to come.

Groundwater : The Hidden Source of Life

What are Water Utilities Biggest Challenges?

lake mead1

How to manage drought?

Major challenges are ahead for the water utility industry. Management, design , and public interest are in the forefront with clear solutions in some areas ..while other solutions lie in murky water.

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Cutting edge designs


Public Interest                          Big steps forward in water management are being made in places where they have big challenges with drought. We don’t have this issue, so those facing drought are pushing the edge forward. We don’t think about water until there is a problem ..and then the legacy of Walkerton, and now Flint put water in the forefront of public scrutiny. If we have not had to deal with the effects of long term drought then getting people to understand the importance of water quality and delivery is a bit of a “so what”.

The water industry is facing a talent gap. Many skilled field workers are getting towards the end of their careers. leaving newbies to keep up the aging systems. If the information that is the the old timers heads is not recorded or properly documented much will be lost. Standardization and protocols need to be developed or take a new direction with new design and innovation.

In looking at new designs for our water facilities and systems our want for innovation has to been tempered with the need to last, to be durable. Ontario has done well in this area, however in order to move forward perhaps we should be looking around the world to see how other utilities are handling their situations. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel , but borrow the ideas and adapt them for ourselves. We are also blessed with some great engineering programs in our schools, some great minds will be entering the industry.waste water2

Being ready for worst case scenarios is necessary in an era of increasingly unpredictable weather. Can your water system handle floods or shortages, or even polar vortexes? Waste water could be looked at as a resource, not as something to be thrown out…filtration, reuse, energy reclamation, and nutrient input make more sense than dumping.Lufa4

We will be needing water for a long time to come…let’s get excited about it….

Envisioning a Water Sensitive Future for Our Cities:

RIO: The Polluted Water of the 2016 Olympics

rio7RIO’s ” Bay of All Delight’s” will be hosting several aquatic events during this summers Olympics. Today much of the area”s wildlife has been eradicated by untreated sewage and industrial waste. The greatest environmental indicator of the level of pollution is the “tucuxi”:(a fresh water dolphin). In 1995 there were some 800 animals in the Bay, 10 yrs later 400, and presently 35 remain. rio8

Rio promised to clean up the water to a great degree for the Olympics. Like many cities in middle income countries Rio treats only a small percentage of it’s sewage. Two investigations based on independent water quality testing found disease causing viruses and bacteria, and not in small amounts.


In pre-Olympic events held in the Bay athletes who have fallen in say the water stinks, sailors are advised to keep their mouths closed and wash their hands after they touch wet gear. What about triathletes performing in the swimming event?rio3rio9

Much is made of the problem of raw sewage being dumped into the Ocean around Rio, but it is not unusual. Around the world raw sewage finds it’s way into bodies of water. Many cities rely on marine outfalls. Just a few months ago Montreal dumped 2 billion gallons of untreated sewage into the St. Lawrence so they could repair old pipes. For Rio there is a unique problem. Many of the beaches are connected to canals and storm water drains that are home to more raw sewage than is typically seen in more developed countries. Ipanema and Copacabana beaches team with fecal matter after storms. rio2rio4

In a short time sailors will be zooming across the waters of Guanabara Bay in heated Olympic competition…while underneath at a rate of 8,200 liters per sec raw sewage flows. Ingesting 3 teaspoons of this water would result in 99% chance of infection. On top of sewage issues, many of the cities that surround the bay have irregular garbage pick up. Olympic sailors have complained about hitting everything from washing machines to garbage bags. RIO

Suffice to say the IOC and RIO have their work cut out for them in improving the water quality so the athletes can compete without getting sick. Much is going on, but much still has to be done. Which begs the question, what will happen when the world leaves RIO, the cameras put away, back to the bad old ways?

2016 RIO Olympics Face Water Pollution Crisis:

Getting the Lead Out

Lead pipe Many Canadian cities still use lead pipes to bring water to homes , schools ,and businesses. Flint failed to treat it’s water with corrosion inhibitors, so it’s pipes started leaching lead into the water. This public health tragedy serves as a wake up call to governments, public health authorities, and municipalities.


Flint water crisis:


lead pipe 2

Lead has been used for most of the 20th century for service pipes, solders, and faucets because of it’s malleability or ease of use. Science found out it was toxic to us. Montreal reports that many houses built before 1970 could have lead service lines. Toronto had lead service pipes in use before the mid 1950’s. The cost of replacement is huge…and the cost of replacing the pipe from the home to the street is the home owners cost. ($1,000-$6,000 per household). Toronto has been changing city owned infrastructure street by street, approx half the lead pipes have been changed over the last several years.lead pipe3

Canadian researchers have been studying the short and long term impact of partial lead line service replacements on lead released into drinking water. The research shows that the number of lead service lines varies across our municipalities…and it is noted how unsuccessful  current initiatives. Critical is the financial and logistical support municipalities supply to consumers to ensure pipes on municipal land and private land are replaced at the same time. Importantly high levels of lead can appear in the drinking  water right after pipe replacement. This is due to the lead on the pipes getting jostled around and get flushed down the pipe to the home as the water service is restored.lead pipe4

Health Canada is set to release a new guideline for lead in drinking water later this year. Stay tuned, with Flint still ongoing there should be more pressure from the feds to make sure we don’t experience the same situation here.



GR May reduce lead pipe replacement.