University of Calgary

University receives $1 million from Alberta Innovates-Energy and Environment Solutions to research drinking water

UToday HomeApril 30, 2013

Bernhard Mayer, Masaki Hayashi and David Hall have been awarded more than $1 million in research funding from Alberta Innovates-Energy and Environment Solutions.Bernhard Mayer, Masaki Hayashi and David Hall have been awarded more than $1 million in research funding from Alberta Innovates-Energy and Environment Solutions. Photo by Riley BrandtThree University of Calgary researchers – David Hall, Masaki Hayashi and Bernhard Mayer – have been awarded funding from Alberta Innovates-Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES) for projects exploring 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).

“Water is a valuable resource that we need for future generations. Our scholarship in this area will help us on our roadmap to achieving the University of Calgary’s Eyes High strategic vision to be one of Canada’s top five research universities, fully engaging the communities we both serve and lead.”

The projects are part of the Alberta government’s Water for Life strategy, which supports safe, secure drinking water; healthy aquatic ecosystems; and reliable, quality water supplies for a sustainable economy.

“With a growing population and expanding economy, it is critical that Alberta has accurate, reliable and useful information and a suite of practical approaches for managing our water resources,” says Eddy Isaacs, CEO of AI-EES. “These projects will provide the crucial information we need to support an actionable strategy for safe, secure and sustainable water for Albertans.”

Alberta Innovates-Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES) is the lead agency for energy and environmental research in Alberta.

David Hall, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, $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 there is no requirement for established residents of rural Alberta to test water quality and most residents do not test, despite this service being offered for free or for the cost of shipping to Alberta Health Services. 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.

Masaki Hayashi, Faculty of Science, $705,755

Since groundwater is a renewable resource, its extraction rates need to be managed to ensure the withdrawal doesn’t cause harmful environmental impacts and it is available for future generations. Hayashi’s 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. His results will create 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.

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.



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