A 'triple crown' announcement

Creating a centre for water quality excellence

- June 26, 2007

Dig this: (back row) Mysore Satish, Associate Dean Research and Graduate Studies, Andre Isabelle, Director, NSERC, David Briggins, Manager, Water and Wastewater Bransh, Dept. of Environment and Labour. Front row: Carl Yates, General Manager, HRWC, Graham Gagnon, Dalhousie professor of Civil Engineering, and Robert Harvey, HRM councillor for Lower Sackville. (Abriel photo)

Dalhousie University, the Halifax Regional Water Commission (HRWC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), have teamed up to launch an ambitious research program that will have a profound effect on the quality of drinking water for the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The three part announcement, dubbed a ÒTriple Crown” by HRWC General Manager, Carl Yates, P.Eng., took place on June 20 at the J. Douglas Kline Water Treatment Plant at Pockwock Lake in Upper Hammonds Plains.

The first announcement was the awarding of a NSERC/HRWC Industrial Research Chair in Water Quality and Treatment to Dr. Graham Gagnon, P.Eng., professor of civil engineering at Dalhousie University. The establishment of this chair recognizes the vital link that exists between science and technology and environmental management.

ÒThe results of Dr. GagnonÕs research will help to protect our environment and ensure future generations of Canadians have clean water,” said Andre Isabelle, Director of Environment & Natural Resources, Research Partnerships, NSERC. ÒNSERCÕs vision is to help make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for the benefit of all Canadians.”

Dr. GagnonÕs expertise in drinking water distribution, water and waste-water treatment, and pollution prevention is matched by a strong commitment to training a cadre of top-notch graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

A unique partnership

The second announcement was the unique partnership between Dalhousie University and HRWC.  The two organizations have joined their research teams.  In so doing, the HRWC will have the benefit of Dr. GagnonÕs expertise and that of his research team. In turn, Dr. Gagnon and his students will be able to work side by side with researchers, engineers and technicians in the field.

ÒThis is an excellent opportunity for Dr. Gagnon to work with a utility and for his grad students to work on real water utility issues,” said Mr. Yates. 

The thrust of the research is to protect the health of the people within HRM. The research results will be directly applicable to plant operations with the primary aim of improving drinking water quality. 

ÒIn addition,” said Dr. Gagnon, Òthe results could potentially reduce the overall operating costs of the utility.” This will be a double benefit for clients of HRWC.

New pilot plant

ÒThe pilot plant will be a small scale laboratory that mimics the operation of the larger plant. It will allow the utility to experiment with the treatment process without risking public health at full scale,” said Mr. Yates.

The pilot plant is being built at a cost of $650,000, and the initial research program will run three years at a cost of $400,000. The structure will be completed by mid-July, and is expected to be fully operational by September.

ÒBy building this pilot plant,” said Mr. Yates, ÒHRWC is aiming to make water quality improvements that could potentially cost tens of millions of dollars to implement at a fraction of the cost.”

Under NSERC Industrial Research Chair program, NSERC will match funds provided by the researcherÕs industrial partners. Dr. Gagnon will work with researchers across Nova Scotia and Canada to improve water quality and processing methods that will ensure high quality drinking water for residents of the Halifax Regional Municipality, but the effects of this work will be felt throughout the province and across Canada.

The HRWC is now the first utility east of Montreal to adopt water quality master planning, build a pilot plant and launch a research program. ÒThis partnership will allow Dalhousie University Engineering researchers to execute research on HRWC's behalf, with the objective to create a centre for water quality excellence in North America” said Mr. Yates.


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