Lab Canada

Drinking water research projects share $1M funding

Calgary, AB – Three researchers at the University of Calgary have been awarded a total of $1 million in funding for projects investigating water quality and the sustainable management of groundwater.

“I’m very excited about the work done by our University of Calgary professors whose research will help mitigate negative environmental impacts on groundwater and manage potential risks associated with contamination of water,” says Ed McCauley, University of Calgary vice-president (research).

The funding is being awarded by the Alberta Innovates-Energy and Environment Solutions. Details of the projects are as follows:

1) David Hall, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, funding: $222,250. Livestock management requires appropriate handling of manure and other animal wastes that may contain harmful levels of pathogens that can cause human illness or death. Currently most residents of rural Alberta do not test water quality, despite this service being offered for free or nearly free.. Hall’s research seeks to understand rural Albertans’ knowledge of water quality, their perceptions of quality of water on their homesteads, and how they manage livestock in accordance with their perceptions.

2) Masaki Hayashi, Faculty of Science, funding: $705,755. As a renewable resource, groundwater’s extraction rates need to be managed to ensure the withdrawal doesn’t cause harmful environmental impacts. This project looks at the balance between the input of groundwater into an aquifer by rain and snowmelt and the output of the natural flow of groundwater to springs, lakes and streams. The results will create a new tool for regulatory agencies, municipalities and others to help understand the potential impacts of changes in land use and the variability of climate on groundwater and surface water that interacts closely with the groundwater.

3) Bernhard Mayer, Faculty of Science: $161,000. With the expansion of oil and gas activities into unconventional reserves, there is some public concern about potential future contamination of Alberta’s groundwater. Mayer’s research will establish an innovative and unprecedented database of the isotopic composition of groundwater in Alberta. Analysis of these data will yield a better understanding about sources of groundwater, the redox conditions in the sampled aquifers, and sources of gases occurring in many aquifers in Alberta. These scientifically evaluated baseline data will be essential for assessing potential future impacts, or the lack thereof, on shallow aquifers by the rapidly expanding unconventional gas industry in Alberta.