MME students sink competition at AquaHacking semi-finals

Thursday, July 5, 2018


From left to right: Rachel Tao, Oliver Witham, Robert Liang, Ivana Zurakowsky

Institutions around the Great Lakes gathered at the 2018 AquaHacking semi-finals in Toronto to present their solutions for the issues facing the Great Lakes. Competing teams were given five minutes to pitch their idea to judges throughout the afternoon at the RBC WaterPark Place.

Five of the 16 teams that competed were selected to move on to the finals in October, including a University of Waterloo team, WaterPuris, that is tackling the issue of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) in our Great Lakes.

WaterPuris, a team lead by Waterloo MME students, is tackling the problem of the accumulation of EDC’s in Lake Ontario and surrounding aquatic ecosystems by applying advanced oxidation processes in point-of-entry (laundry, faucets, and toilet) applications.

The accumulation of EDCs is not just limited to Lake Ontario. In 2012, Water Institute member Mark Servos discovered a high population of intersex male rainbow darter fish in the Grand River. These intersex fish were a result of exposure to natural and synthetic hormones in the water, which caused eggs to appear in male testes or tissues.

Endocrine disruption in water systems is a worldwide phenomenon. Estrogen in birth control pills and other chemicals that mimic natural hormones are known to impact fish health in trace amounts as low as one part per trillion, far below what conventional wastewater treatment can typically remove.

WaterPuris is tackling this issue at the source – your toilet. By breaking down and removing the EDC’s before they enter wastewater treatment plants, their hope is that their technology will lessen the load for the treatment facilitates, allowing them to run as efficiently as possible.

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