In the past decade, climate change-exacerbated landscape disturbances such as wildfires and floods have threatened water security by altering not only water availability, but also source water quality and consequently treatability. An international panel convened by the Canadian Water Network and the Water Research Foundation in 2014 concluded that sole reliance on in-plant treatment technologies for mitigating such risks is inadequate.
Algae blooms—especially cyanobacteria—pose some of the greatest associated challenges to drinking water treatment. Cyanobacteria blooms can reduce drinking water treatment process efficiency, leading to service disruptions, inability to meet community demands, and even outages. Moreover, they can produce toxins that expensive advanced treatment not found in most conventional treatment plants.
Traditional source water protection approaches are alarmingly inadequate for managing these threats, especially in a changing climate. These challenges underscore the urgent need to integrate watershed and reservoir management for not only water quantity, but water quality and treatability with broader risk management and public health protection mandates.
Fortunately, Canada’s wealth of green, natural resource-based infrastructure can be leveraged to manage risk and mitigate water quality impacts. Such approaches to source water protection are urgently needed, especially in rural, remote, and marginalized communities—small systems—with limited resources for implementing costly and operator-intensive in-plant treatment technologies.
Speaker: Monica Emelko, University of Waterloo
*** Webinar recording will be available if you are unable to attend the live event ***