From tragedy to high technology: the Walkerton Clean Water Centre

From tragedy to high technology: the Walkerton Clean Water Centre

Recently, The Cleantech Practice packed up the car and hit the open road, destination: The Walkerton Clean Water Centre (WCWC).

The WCWC is making waves in Ontario clean drinking water. Catalyzed by the Walkerton tragedy of 2000, The WCWC was created in 2004 to work with the Ministry of Environment on the status of Ontario’s drinking water, which was put under a microscope as a result of the Walkerton Inquiry.

It has since risen from the ashes and is now on the leading edge of drinking water technology demonstrations and research, water system operator training, and drinking water education in Ontario.

Clean water, fast flowing entrepreneurs

Walkerton Water Centre

A shining beacon set in the rural landscape of Walkerton, Ontario, the state-of-the-art centre opened in 2009 and has since attained a LEED Gold Certification through (among many things) the use of recyclable building materials, energy saving appliances, and of course water conservation – the building uses approximately 78% less water than a conventional building.

The centre includes training and educational facilities to accomodate up to 150 participants. However, the pinnacle of the new WCWC is its advanced testing and demonstration facility, offering a unique opportunity to municipalities and companies looking to test water (and some waste water) treatment technologies.

The WCWC supports 5 types of water treatment technology systems:

  • Sand Filtration
  • Membrane Filtration
  • UV Radiation
  • Ozone Disinfection
  • Advanced Oxidization

These systems support both myriad drinking water technologies and entrepreneurs looking to validate their technology or research new methods. What really puts WCWC ahead of the pack of water testing facilities, though, is the ability to test multiple treatment options simultaneously; who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

In addition, WCWC is quickly becoming a gathering point for stakeholders and contributors in the drinking water sector in Ontario, a valuable resource in connecting companies, people, committees, and municipalities across the province. This extends to research initiatives that are being spearheaded by the facility which include opportunities for research grants and co-op programs for students in Canadian Universities and Colleges.

Another pillar of The WCWC is the training and educational programs for water systems professionals, with a specific focus on water systems in remote locations, small systems, and water systems in First Nations communities. With the aid of a Mobile Training Unit, WCWC ensures up-to-date operator training, knowledge benchmarking and mandatory recertification every 3 years.

Thirsty for change

While Ontario is internationally renowned as being on the leading-edge of drinking water quality, the industry is often bogged down by dialoge that centers on what the water sector “should” look like rather than creating it. With technical facilities, extensive insight into the water sector, and strong networking ties within the province, The Walkerton Clean Water Centre is a refreshing step towards tangible innovation and an invaluable tool for entrepreneurs in the Ontario water sector.