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NSERC Funds Research to Improve Wastewater at Two Ont. First Nations

Posted on February 23, 2017

Dr. Chris Metcalfe, a professor at the Trent School for the Environment and director of the Institute for Watershed Science, has been awarded $478,800 over three years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Strategic Partnership Grants for Projects program.

The funding will be used to study the effectiveness of integrating ozone treatment systems with sewage lagoons to improve wastewater treatment and reduce impacts on local water systems in two Ontario First Nations communities.

“We’re very pleased with the results of this most recent NSERC competition. The funding to support Dr. Chris Metcalfe’s research on the treatment of wastewater in small, rural communities in our country is of critical importance. Of special interest is the opportunity to work with First Nations communities in the development and evaluation of a cost-effective, innovative technology for water purification. Also exciting for us is working in partnership with a local company, Aclarus Technologies, and helping them with a significant R&D project. This company is primed for a major step up in commercialization, with outcomes in manufacturing expansion and job creation,” said Dr. Neil Emery, vice-president research and innovation at Trent University.

“There are many First Nations communities and other small communities in Canada that use sewage lagoons to treat their domestic wastewater,” Professor Metcalfe explained. “Typically, they discharge partially-treated wastewater from the lagoons into surface waters. However, Environment Canada has established more stringent guidelines for the quality of wastewater and many of these communities will have difficulty in complying. The ozone pre-treatment method is a new approach that has been shown to work in a few previous studies but has never been tried at full scale.”

Aclarus Ozone Water Systems, a water treatment company based in Peterborough, will be donating an ozonation system for the project. “Aclarus is an innovative company that has shown an interest in applying ozonation treatment to a range of novel applications,” said Prof. Metcalfe, who will be assisted in his research by Trent students as well as a student and faculty member at McGill University.

The Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation will collaborate on the two pilot-scale studies. The project will also be supported by CREATE H2O, a program that trains water practitioners to work with First Nations communities to address water-related problems.

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