Canadian Association on Water Quality


Welcome to the first edition of the Canadian Association on Water Quality Newsletter!

Written by researchers and experts from Canadian institutions, we aim to provide informative and easily digestible content on Canadian water quality research! Feel free to share these short articles with your network – creating a community that is water-informed!

This December 2021 edition features short articles from researchers in Central Canada, and an interview with our Western Regional Director, Dr. Bipro Dhar. Newsletter content will be archived on the CAWQ Website, so feel free to check us out on

We look forward to continually engage our community and create content on water quality research.
A message from current CAWQ President, Mike Lywood...
Pilot Plant Research Facility - The Britannia Water Purification Plant 
Niloufar Nekouei Marnani, PhD Student, University of Ottawa

Throughout history, there have been several water incidents that have led to severe public health crises. Overcoming these challenges and achieving removal of various types of contamination from water supplies can be highly expensive and time consuming. A pilot scale water treatment facility at the Britannia Water Purification Plant in Ottawa is an example of a system that simulates a city’s drinking water treatment needs. The main purpose of this project is to provide the opportunity for researchers across Canada to explore novel techniques of water treatment to enhance drinking water quality.

Since the pilot plant is not connected to the main water supply of the City of Ottawa, experiments and research can simply be tested here before conducting full-scale studies. It provides a full spectrum of experimentation opportunities, and research that has resulted in promising outcomes in the bench (smaller) scale can be studied in the pilot plant.

Many universities such as University of Waterloo, Carleton University, University of Toronto, and École Polytechnique have collaborated at this pilot plant facility, resulting in 40 projects and 75 research articles in different areas such as coagulation, filtration, and disinfection. Here, researchers hope to continue to reduce the risk of public health issues by constantly monitoring and exploring novel techniques for the improvement of urban drinking water quality.
Bulk Water Pricing Policies and Strategies for Sustainable Water Management
May Alherek, MASc, Carleton University

As global warming intensifies and the effects of climate change become more evident, the need for sustainable water management becomes clearer. Climate change is expected to increase the scarcity of fresh water globally and locally, making it even more important to manage water sustainably. In many cities, freshwater consumption is inefficient and is often based on a mistaken mindset of water abundance. There are different ways to make water consumption more efficient and sustainable, such as the approach of command and control, employing economic instruments, voluntary compliance or stewardship and bulk water pricing. While each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages, bulk water pricing is the more comprehensive one.

Bulk water pricing is a holistic approach for estimating the value of raw water extracted from surface and groundwater sources, depending on different factors such as: how critical is the situation of the water source, the volume of the water extracted, the type of industry, and the ability to address the concern of socioeconomic equity and affordability. This approach aims to change the behavior around water consumption by industries, making it as efficient as possible.

A study led by researchers at the University of Waterloo looks at the potential for applying bulk water pricing in Canada and uses Ontario as a model province. The study examines available government-imposed measures and policies to control water consumption, identifies the gaps in policies, and does a comprehensive economic study to understand how adopting this approach would reflect on the economy of Ontario. The study also explains how, despite the fact that the impact of applying bulk water pricing will be different on each water consuming sector, the net GDP loss will be negligible. It finally concludes by highlighting the economic and environmental importance of this approach and identifying the steps that Ontario needs to take to move to bulk water pricing.
CAWQ Executive Committee Highlight
Dr. Bipro Dhar
CAWQ Western Regional Director
Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta

Dhar Lab

Dr. Bipro Dhar (BD) was interviewed by Foroogh Mehravaran (FM), PhD student from the University of Alberta and CAWQ's Western Regional Communications Lead


FM: What inspired you to be a professor in the civil and environmental engineering department at U of A?
BD: I always wanted to be in academia. However, when I started as a graduate student, I thought working in academia would give me more flexibility to work in the area of my interests. During my PhD at Waterloo, I always enjoyed working with new graduate and undergraduate researchers and sharing my experience as a junior mentor. I also had an opportunity to teach an undergraduate course on wastewater engineering. These experiences made me equally passionate about research and teaching and eventually inspired me to pursue an academic career.

FM: What is the most memorable experience or sparkling achievement you have had at U of A as a professor?
BD: Well, it is not easy to cite a specific memory. However, I always feel delighted when I receive messages from former students who appreciate my efforts in the class. I also get excited for my research team members when they receive scholarships or jobs.

FM: What research topics are more appealing to you and what are the projects you are currently dedicating your time on?
BD: My research focuses on water, waste, and energy nexus. More specifically, my team works on energy and resource recovery from wastewater and organic waste. Also, we look into the impacts and fates of emerging pollutants and their environmental risks in energy and resource recovery systems.

FM: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected most of careers as well as many research experiments - how has this circumstance affected your projects so far? Also, can you explain more about how your research group has used the pandemic as an opportunity for their research?
BD: As my research is primarily experimental, like most of my colleagues, our activities were also affected by the closure of labs. However, my team members managed this challenge wisely by quickly adopting the new normal and utilizing their time more effectively. Also, we could take a pause, read more, and revisit our research direction. It enabled us to expand our research direction in quite a few areas. For instance, we did some work to explore how rising levels of disposable face masks in municipal solid waste would influence our waste management practices. I should also mention that CAWQ held several online conferences during this pandemic, which stimulated my team and allowed us to keep connected with other researchers.

FB: As a western regional director, how did you find out about CAWQ and what attract you the most to accept this position?
BD: The most important thing I like about CAWQ is that this is one of the fewest professional organizations in our field that is more student-focused. I still remember the first CAWQ conference I attended in Burlington, Ontario, in 2011. At that time, I was almost finishing my master’s degree and working on a specific topic like most graduate students. That conference allowed me to develop a ‘big picture’ perspective on my research and get to know other people in my field, and get their feedback on my work. Interestingly, I also met my future Ph.D. supervisor there. So, I believe CAWQ has shaped my career in many ways. Now, I think it is my turn to contribute to CAWQ and continue helping young professionals find out their future pathways.

FM: As I understood, your research areas mainly is related to waste management and energy and resource recovery, It would be interesting to know how your research experiments would fit in the goal of CAWQ, which is mainly related to wastewater and water quality streams?
BD: Thank you for this interesting question. CAWQ offers a unique platform for those working broadly in different areas related to the water industry. Over the last two decades, the area of water research evolved significantly. So, just working towards meeting regulatory guidelines is not enough. Particularly, my research focusing on energy and resource recovery from wastewater and residuals, which aligns with the ‘circular economy’ approach that the water industry is trying to achieve these days. I think CAWQ has well adopted this new paradigm of water research. In most CAWQ conferences these days, we have multiple technical sessions focusing on energy and resource recovery from waste and wastewater

FM: What should researchers know about CAWQ in the western region which is not directly shown online?
BD: I moved to Western Canada in 2016. Except for the Western Canadian Symposium in 2019, we did not have many activities. Although we planned to have another symposium in 2020, it was postponed due to the pandemic. We plan to organize more activities in the coming days, including conferences, webinars, and workshops. Our most priority would be involving more students and young professionals. Also, I would like to collaborate with other organizations working in the water and wastewater sectors in Western Canada.

2021 CAWQ Conference Award Winners

The 2021 Virtual Atlantic and Eastern Canadian Symposium on Water Quality Research was successfully held on November 2-3, having 70+ registrants, 36 oral presentations, and 26 poster presentations. The symposium was co-hosted by the Canadian Association on Water Quality (CAWQ), PEOPLE Network, and CREATE-TEDGIEER. We would like to sincerely thank our sponsors, organizing committees, event coordinators, keynote speakers, session chairs, evaluators, presenters, and all attendees! Congratulations to the five student/YWP winners:

Philip H. Jones Awards for the best oral presentations:
1st place: Elizabeth Shively (Polytechnique Montréal)
2nd place: Lena Carolin Bitter (Carleton University)

One-Slide-3-min Presentation Awards:
1st place: Nicolas Nayrac (Universitéde Sherbrooke)
2nd place (tie): Milad Fakhari (Institut national de la recherche scientifique, INRS) and Ryan Guild (University of Prince Edward Island)

CAWQ Memberships

The CAWQ welcomes membership applications from all persons in industry, academia, governmental and non-governmental organizations, public service, community groups, professional societies, and the general public, including private firms, who have an interest in water issues. Available memberships include: Individual Members, Young Water Professionals, Corporate Members, Sustaining Members, University/Government/Non-governmental/Society Members, Honorary Members, and Joint Memberships.

Register to become a member now!

The mission of the Canadian Association on Water Quality (CAWQ) is to create and foster a nationwide network of professionals dedicated to the development and communication of knowledge to preserve and enhance the water quality environment.

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