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Waterloo students sink competition at AquaHacking semi-finals

Monday, June 25, 2018

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.

“I was exposed first-hand to the serious affects that EDC’s are having on the environment while working with Mark Servos, analyzing rainbow darter fish in the Grand River Watershed,” said Robert Liang, postdoctoral student in Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering and founder of WaterPuris. “If EDC’s could affect the behaviour and fertility of male rainbow darters, this problem could potentially be transferred to humans.”

Rachel Tao, Oliver Witham, Robert Liang, Ivana Zurakowsky

(from left to right) Rachel Tao, Oliver Witham, Robert Liang, Ivana Zurakowsky

Prototype of WaterPuris technology Prototype of WaterPuris technology

WaterPuris, a team lead by Waterloo Engineering 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.

“The peroxide that we use, as part of the oxidation process, will react overtime through the sewer system and into the wastewater treatment plant,” said Robert. “Our hope is that our technology will reduce the chemical and biological oxidation demand so wastewater treatment plants can work optimally.”

2018 AquaHacking semi-finalists:

WaterPuris is tackling the problem of the accumulation of EDCs in Lake Ontario and surrounding aquatic ecosystems by applying advanced oxidation processes in point-of-entry (laundry, faucets, and toilet) applications.

ECG Labs is using the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to report on combined sewer overflows in real-time, on a website that the public can access to be aware, informed, and adequately prepared for the impacts.

ECGLabs

SWIM presents robust and versatile decentralized sewage overflow detection with their drone-assisted infrared camera.

SWIM Team

M Power Software Team is using an internet of things device to detect water overflow and send real-time data to a cloud service to process and analyze. Leveraging the power of AI, they plan to predict the flow before it happens.

M Power Software

E-Nundaation developed a multi-platform application for flood risk management and analysis that will alert subscribers and enable them to assess their own vulnerability.Enundation team

Learn more about the 2018 AquaHacking competition, and follow the journey to the finals!

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