In the media: IC3 Member comments on the impact of wildfires on water

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

IC3 Member, Monica Emelko, shares her expertise on the impacts of wildfires on water in an InsideClimate News article. 

In Wildfire’s Wake, Another Threat: Drinking Water Contamination

[...] "Wildfire is going to affect water," said Monica Emelko, director of the Water Science, Technology & Policy group at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. "And it's going to cost, and it's going to be bad."

[...] Water containing extra sediment, substances and nutrients from wildfires can be effectively treated, but it's difficult and expensive for many communities whose water treatment systems were not built for such emergencies. Emelko and Uldis Silins, professor of agricultural life and environmental sciences at the University of Alberta, have researched the impact of wildfire on water for 16 years. But in the last five or 10 years, demand for their expertise has skyrocketed, including in May 2016, when a wildfire swept into Fort McMurray, a hub of tar sands mining in Alberta.

Concerned from the outset about protecting drinking water, local officials asked Emelko and Silins to join the disaster response team immediately. The researchers have seen the toll the fire took on Fort McMurray's water treatment. The local water utility spent hundreds of thousands of additional funds two years after the fire to rid it of ash.

Emelko was concerned that along with the sediment and nutrients, more dissolved organic carbon was in the water, which can make it harder to treat. Those challenges could ultimately lead to shortages and service disruptions, said Emelko, who is also a professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Waterloo. [...]

Full news story available here: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/10022020/water-contaminate-wildfire-health-sanitation-australia-california

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