Civil engineering professor works to protect Ontario's water supply

Civil engineering professor works to protect Ontario's water supply

June 21, 2013


By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Bruce Anderson wants to protect Ontario’s source waters and has received a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to help him and his partners do just that.

Professor Anderson’s (Civil Engineering) research is focused on building optimal wetlands and other innovative passive treatment systems to help the greenhouse industry treat and recycle the water it uses.

Dr. Bruce Anderson

He and Brent Wootton of Fleming College have received $602,669 over three years from NSERC’s College-University Idea to Innovation Grant to advance their research. The results will be used by Aqua Treatment Technologies Inc.

“I continue to build collaborative expertise and capacity in the area of innovative, advanced wastewater treatment for small-scale, isolated and decentralized communities and industries,” says Dr. Anderson. “This new funding allows us to continue to address the real problems that industries and municipalities face as they seek economical and sustainable ways to protect Ontario source waters.”

As greenhouses water their products, the water will pick up salts and other contaminants that need to be treated. When greenhouses route their wastewater into a constructed treatment wetland, various natural processes will remove these contaminants from the water, which can then be recycled and used again by the greenhouse.

Dr. Anderson and his team are researching salt accumulating plants that could remove up to 25 per cent of salt in the water and allow the water to be recycled. It’s an environmentally friendly solution that reduces overall water consumption and helps to treat wastewater and protect precious source water.

The simplicity of this approach and its economic viability make even partial removal of salt a highly attractive treatment solution for the greenhouse industry.

“The value of the NSERC College-University Idea to Innovation program is in encouraging strong research partnerships to be created between Ontario's community colleges and universities,” says Dr. Anderson. “Having worked closely with Fleming College and it’s Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment in the past, it is gratifying to have this funding in place to allow a much stronger and formalized partnership to be forged.”

Other successful collaborative research projects by Dr. Anderson include work in the fish hatchery industry, the wood waste industry and with municipalities dealing with the pressing need to improve urban stormwater runoff discharge quality.

The College-University Idea to Innovation Grants support college and university participation in the improvement or extension of existing company technology or commercial products.