Reimagining Canada’s Water Service Infrastructure
Water service infrastructure is an essential part of providing clean water. However, much of the infrastructure in Canada is nearing the end of its life and needs replacing. Thanks to Dr. Yang Liu, Canada Research Chair in Future Water Services, we may soon have options for wastewater infrastructure that are safer, more economical and more environmentally friendly.
Other countries have responded to economic, environmental and societal pressures for more sustainable water management by developing source-diverted treatment systems. These separate the collection and treatment of blackwater (toilet and kitchen food streams) from greywater (all other wastewater streams). This separation makes it possible to maximize the amount of nutrients and biogas (that is, biofuel produced by decomposing organic waste) recovered from blackwater. It also makes it possible to maximize thermal heat recovery from greywater and produce safe non-potable water. But such systems are not established in North America yet—and before Canada can implement them, significant technological research gaps need to be addressed.
Liu and her research team are helping to address these gaps. They are focusing on improving biogas and nutrient recovery from blackwater and on enhancing greywater treatment options that are suitable for Canada’s climate. This research will give industry and researchers valuable information about feasible water service technologies and help guide future community water management practices.
This research will lead to more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable solutions for our water service infrastructure. It also has the potential to change how we approach future urban development.