Conferences about Water and Wastewater

September 27, 2010

Last week was one of those busy ones where I was getting home after 9 pm a few nights in a row, and leaving again at 6 am for 7 am breakfasts.  The occasion was the Western Canada Water and Wastewater show, which being the giant nerd I am I was really looking forward to.  This year the theme was “Superheroes” which was rather cute, I did my best to pose as one before the tradeshow opened on Wednesday.  This year my new company did not have a booth at the show, but being the clever girl I am I still got to attend the whole deal, this time in the water charity booth.  I helped organize the fundraising, sold raffle and 50/50 tickets, and got to catch up with loads of old friends and contacts.  By the second day I was running around with sneakers on, as I have no shame.  I don’t look very pregnant in the photo at left, as the belly is totally out the front.  I sure surprised a few people however that hadn’t seen me in a year, especially once they said Hi, then glanced down and noticed my belly is a good foot out from where it normally is.  I have some side profile photos to show tomorrow, so Mum can see just how big the belly is getting! 

I learned a lot as always at the show, a highlight was going to a presentation on the improvements being done at the two Calgary water treatment plants, specifically the one that I drink from.  Not only is it interesting, but its personal. One thing they have done recently is recycle more water, reducing their withdrawals from the Bow River by 10%, which is significant.

I’m becoming more and more involved in the water charity that I volunteer for, which I’ll talk about here,but this is for information only (as I find it interesting) I’m not asking anyone to donate anything.  There are many, many charities out there asking for money to provide clean drinking water systems for people in developing nations, but Water for People (www.waterforpeople.org) is the one supported by water professionals, and is the official recipient for all the conferences.  They have a good model which involves providing incentives for local people to develop their own business models for water and sanitation systems.  They do not believe people from developed nations should provide what they think is the best solution, they would rather consult with locals and try to develop something that is sustainable and will work.  They also do ongoing monitoring, which is completed by volunteers, and if a system is broken investigate what happened, and endeavour to fix the system.  They have programs to develop proper latrines which will be used and can be easily maintained, and hand washing programs all of which prevent pollution of water, and stop the spread of disease.  They have a program in India where they are consulting with local women and girls to integrate proper latrines that ensure modesty is upheld, as well as incorporating an incinerator for menstruation pads.  A large cause of failure of toilets and latrines in the past was the flushing of these materials.  I find it all rather fascinating, an example of applying engineering troubleshooting skills to a real world problem from which we can all draw lessons.  If the people don’t want it, they won’t use it, so why not ask them what they want in the first place?  As a charity it also meets one of my other criteria, with less than 15% of the donated money going towards overhead, and the rest towards actual projects.

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One Response to “Conferences about Water and Wastewater”

  1. Cheryl S. said

    Gee, asking people what they want instead of telling them. How novel! Too bad we don’t see that more often. Sounds like a very worthy organization.

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