MUN Working With NL Municipalities On Drinking Water Quality
June 04th, 2013
Healthy drinking water is something people often take for granted, yet at any given time in Newfoundland and Labrador communities are challenged to provide just that.
Memorial University of Newfoundland and its Grenfell Campus have partnered with Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) on a research project aimed at identifying the types of risks and challenges influencing drinking water quality and availability in rural Newfoundland.
Sarah Minnes, project co-ordinator for the research team, provided an overview of the Exploring Solutions for Sustainable Rural Drinking Water Systems study for members of the Great Humber Joint Council at the Massey Drive Town Hall on Saturday.
“This is probably the most important part of the research,” said Minnes of connecting with the communities following her presentation. She said hearing from the people in the communities about their water issues and challenges will provide the team with valuable knowledge as it attempts to offer solutions. That’s why Minnes took notes on the comments and questions brought up by council members during her presentation.
“There has been lots of research done on water, the actual water sampling and things like that,” she said. “That’s provincially mandated and has to be done,” she said adding that the results of water sampling can be found online through the Department of Environment and Conservation.
“That’s kind of almost the easy part is looking at the actual water. But looking at what actually affects the water quality and why are those numbers coming up the way they are is important and that involves talking with our demographics, talking to municipal leaders as well as the general public and the province.”
Minnes said the project is focused primarily on rural communities with populations of 1,000 or less. That’s because there are already several studies out there that have looked at more urban centres like Corner Brook, St. John’s and Gander. She also noted that most urban centres already have water management plans in place.
“Rural problems are very specific and different than urban problems and that should be recognized,” she said. “And even a community of 1,000 may have different problems than a community of 500.”
The study will look at four major components — source water quality and quantity; public perception, awareness and demand; policy and governance; and water distribution infrastructure and municipal water treatment/disinfection. The project is funded to June 2014 and Minnes said the aim at the end is to synthesize all the information.
“What don’t we know, what do we know that needs improvement and how can we move forward either with further research or policy reform, policy change or suggestions to municipalities.”
The nearly $140,000 research project is being lead by Kelly Vodden of Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland and is being funded by the Harris Centre through the RBC Water Research and Outreach Fund.