Canadian Teachers are Waiting to Educate Over 138,000 Canadian Students About Drinking Water Quality Issues and Solutions

Canadian teachers are currently waiting for the opportunity to educate over 138,000 Canadian students about drinking water quality issues and solutions. In order to be able to do this they will need over 4,100 sponsored Operation Water Drop, Operation Water Pollution and Operation Water Biology kits to be sent to their schools. Individuals and companies can sponsor kits for schools. If you/your company sponsors kits, you/your company will be acknowledged in the letter that accompanies the kit. You can even decide in which geographic area your kits will be dispersed or to which specific school(s). Please e-mail if you would like to sponsor Operation Water Drop, Operation Water Pollution and/or Operation Water Biology kits or if you would like more information.

Educational Kits for Schools

Many school divisions and districts from coast to coast are recommending the Safe Drinking Water Foundation's education programs to their teachers!  Thank you to all of the administrators who are promoting our programs!  To find out whether a sponsored kit is available for your school,  send an e-mail to or phone 306-934-0389.


Learn More About Our Two New Education Programs

Operation Water Biology
Operation Community Water Footprint

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Health Day October 16, 2014

Teens drank fewer sugary drinks when energy content info was converted to exercise, study found.

THURSDAY, Oct. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Alerting teens about how much walking or running they would have to do in order to burn off the calories in a soda or other sugary drink might convince them to choose a lower-calorie beverage, researchers say.

"People don't really understand what it means to say a typical soda has 250 calories," study leader Sara Bleich, an associate professor in the department of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a university news release.

"If you're going to give people calorie information, there's probably a better way to do it. What our research found is that when you explain calories in an easily understandable way such as how many miles of walking needed to burn them off, you can encourage behavior change."

For the study, Bleich and her colleagues installed brightly colored 8.5-by-11-inch signs in six corner stores in low-income, predominately black neighborhoods in Baltimore. The signs informed consumers that a 20-ounce bottle of regular soda, sports drink or fruit juice contained 250 calories and 16 tablespoons of sugar, which would require 50 minutes of running or 5 miles of walking to burn off.

The researchers observed nearly 3,100 drink purchases at the stores by teens between the ages of 12 to 19 years. They interviewed 25 percent of the youngsters. Of the 35 percent of teens who said they saw the signs, 59 percent said they believed the information on the signs and 40 percent said they changed their purchases as a result.

Sugary drinks accounted for 98 percent of beverage purchases in the stores before the signs were posted, compared with 89 percent after the signs were put up, the researchers found. Many teens also chose to buy smaller sizes. And the number of sugary-drink calories bought by each teen went from 203 calories to 179 calories, according to the study.

The percentage of teens who decided not to buy a drink rose from 27 percent to 33 percent, and water purchases rose from 1 percent to 4 percent, according to the study published online Oct. 16 in the American Journal of Public Health.

"This is a very low-cost way to get children old enough to make their own purchases to drink fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, and they appear to be effective even after [the signs] are removed," Bleich said.
"Black adolescents are one of the groups at highest risk for obesity and one of the largest consumers of sugary beverages. And there is a strong scientific link between consumption of sugary beverages and obesity. Using these easy-to-understand and easy-to-install signs may help promote obesity prevention or weight loss," she concluded.

More information
Yale University has more about sugary drinks.

Dene Moore, The Canadian Press October 16, 2014

VANCOUVER - A judge will not stop the flow of fresh water from British Columbia's lakes and rivers to hydraulic fracking operations, but did recognize the issue as a growing public concern.

The Western Canada Wilderness Committee and the Sierra Club filed a petition against the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission and energy company EnCana Corp. (TSX:ECA) over the commission's decision to grant repeat short-term water approvals to the company.

The environmental groups wanted the court to declare the approvals a violation of the provincial Water Act. They also asked a judge to quash several such permits issued to Encana.

But in a decision posted this week on the court website, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick dismissed the application.

"Over the last few decades, the world has become increasingly aware that water is a precious resource," she wrote. "This heightened awareness has caused many persons, including public interest groups such as the petitioners, to question the management of our water resources, particularly as it relates to the use of publicly owned water by industry."

Concerns include increasing pressure on water resources and the effect of chemicals used in the fracking process, as well as the effect of fracking on underground water resources, Fitzpatrick noted.

Days before the court hearing began, the provincial government introduced its updated Water Sustainability Act, which expressly allows recurrent short-term approvals.

But the previous legislation did not prohibit such approvals, Fitzpatrick found.

Court heard that in 2012, the oil and gas commission granted the industry access to 20.4 million cubic metres of surface water. About seven million were for fracking — 54 per cent of that from short-term approvals.

But only a small fraction of the fresh water used in the province is for oil and gas, the judge said.

In 2009, the industry received less than 0.006 per cent, compared to the hydro power industry allocation of 98 per cent. And only a small portion of that is actually withdrawn for use, Fitzpatrick found.

The commission did not respond to a request for comment.

Doug McIntyre, of Encana, said Thursday the decision validates the company's position.

"Encana responsibly uses water in a number of ways to produce natural gas and oil on which all British Columbians rely," McIntyre said in a statement emailed in response to a request for an interview.

The company continuously consults First Nations, local communities, landowners and others on water use and is open to further discussions, he said.

"We always seek wherever possible to reduce our reliance on surface water sources and have successfully used otherwise unusable saline water in a number of our operating areas as an alternate source."

Caitlyn Vernon of the Sierra Club said the decision was disappointing, and likewise the new provincial water regulation.

"It's a clear example of the law being changed to suit industry's needs," she said.

Though she dismissed the petition, the judge granted the environmental groups public interest standing to bring the case to court and did not order them to pay the defendants' costs, as is often the case.

"This proceeding has raised an important issue concerning the use of a valuable public resource...," Fitzpatrick wrote.

"This issue has not previously been determined, and substantially arises from the increasing activities of the oil and gas sector in the province and the industry’s ongoing and increasing water needs in its operations."

Jeff Karoub, The Associated Press October 20, 2014

During a United Nations Fact-Finding Detroit Town Hall Meeting, Leilani Farha, right, and Catarina de Albuquerque answer questions from local residents, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, at Wayne County Community College in Detroit. de Albuquerque is a UN Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, and Farha is Executive Director of the NGO Canada Without Poverty, based in Ottawa. (AP Photo/Detroit News, Jose Juarez)

DETROIT - United Nations human rights experts described Detroit's mass water shut-offs as "a man-made perfect storm" Monday and called on city officials to restore water to those unable to pay, including those with disabilities or chronic illnesses.

Meanwhile, Detroit's officials said the two lawyers' actions and conclusions were agenda-driven and not based on "facts" about the city's progress in helping residents keep or regain service.

Leilani Farha and Catarina de Albuquerque, who were in town to observe the effect of water service shut-offs, said they affect the poorest and most vulnerable — and particularly discriminate against Detroit's majority black population.

The representatives of the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner made the trip after activists appealed to the U.N. for assistance. They visited residents who have lost water service or have struggled to keep it, and they met with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and water department officials for about two hours Monday morning.

The city, the nation's largest municipality to file for bankruptcy, said it made about 27,000 shut-offs between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30. Most shut-offs were halted for several weeks during the summer to give residents a chance to enter payment plans but they resumed and topped 5,100 in September.

The U.N. officials cited falling population, rising unemployment and a utility passing on higher costs associated with an aging system. De Albuquerque said she has seen shut-offs in other U.S. cities and developed nations, but nothing like Detroit.

"Our conclusion is that you have here in Detroit a man-made perfect storm," de Albuquerque said. "The scale of the disconnections in the city is unprecedented."

The mayor's top aide, Alexis Wiley, said the city is "very disappointed" with the U.N. visit. She said Detroit is helping residents by beefing up customer service, getting 33,000 people in payment plans — up 15,000 since August — and logging a more than 50 per cent drop in residential calls for water assistance.

"They weren't interested in the facts," Wiley said. "They took a position and never once (before Monday) reached out to the city for data."

De Albuquerque and Farha called their conversation with Detroit officials "constructive." They said they can't enforce recommendations but want to help the city and residents resolve the situation.

"If the city does not have enough money then other levels of government have to step in to support," de Albuquerque said.

Some advocates took the issue to federal court, but the judge overseeing Detroit's municipal bankruptcy trial ruled last month he lacked authority to force the utility to stop the shut-offs.

About 21,500 shut-offs were made in 2012. That number rose to 24,000 last year.

The tactic appears to be effective in getting people to pay. The water department said it collected about $2.5 million in water and sewage bills for all of 2012 and again last year. About $3.7 million was collected through the first nine months of this year.

De Albuquerque said residents have told her and Farha that they want to pay their share as long as it's just and fair.

"No one asked for a free ride," she said.

Elissa Barnard, Arts Reporter at the Galleries, The Chronicle Herald October 17, 2014

MacLeod’s photos of waterways at risk from acid rain are among a wide array of images at Photopolis, across Halifax

Heather MacLeod photographed 14 of Nova Scotia's rivers most affected by acid rain and of people working as river guardians in the province for a Photopolis exhibit in Halifax. Pictured is the Argyle River.

Heather MacLeod’s beautiful photographs of Nova Scotia rivers contain a hidden menace — acid rain.

“A lot of people think acid rain was dealt with years ago,” says MacLeod.

“It’s still an ongoing problem, and it’s invisible.”

She photographed the 14 Nova Scotia rivers that are most affected by acid rain. They have pH levels below 4.7. At a pH of five, most fish eggs cannot hatch.

MacLeod’s series, Acid Rivers, and the companion series, River Guardians, celebrating community river conservation, are on exhibit at the Nova Scotia Archives to Oct. 31 as part of Photopolis: The Halifax Festival of Photography.

MacLeod, who teaches environmental studies at Saint Mary’s University, photographed the rivers with a medium-format camera for rich, panoramic views that invite the viewer right into the tranquil, pastoral landscapes.

It’s eerie to think that these no longer support salmon or trout — rivers like Larry’s River, Guysborough County, and the Clyde and Roseway rivers in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Most of the rivers are in southwestern and eastern Nova Scotia, where thin soil on top of bedrock makes for a lack of calcium to absorb the acid rain coming from the power plants and car exhaust sweeping over the province from the eastern United States and Central Canada. The American Clean Air Act helped reduce power plant emissions by as much as 25 per cent, says MacLeod, but that didn’t eliminate the problem.

MacLeod focused on two of the province’s over 30 community river conservation groups — the Sackville Rivers Association, active since 1988, and the Clean Annapolis River Project, active since 1990.

Her hopeful documentary photographs in River Guardians depict a couple taking a water sample from the Annapolis River, waders worn by people fishing out garbage and conservationists planting on the river bank.

An inner cheer goes up inside viewers seeing a live fish being helped up a fish ladder on the Sackville River.

MacLeod’s family roots are in Prince Edward Island, and her connection is to the Murray River.

“I’m interested in the state of the land and the water and how we impact them.”

Everyone contributes to this problem.

“It’s how we fuel ourselves and our driving habits. We all have to be aware of how we can lessen our impact.”

Larry's River. (CONTRIBUTED)

Today, 1-3 p.m. at the Nova Scotia Archives, there is a panel discussion, Talking About Our Rivers, with river lovers and conservationists.

MacLeod had this show booked long before she ended up being director for Photopolis 2014, a city-wide festival of 35 exhibits, 40 events and a symposium Oct. 25.

“It’s a celebration of photography, and it shows photography that has a lot of intention behind it, that’s quite socially engaged photography, and I think people are interested in that.”

People can simply enjoy the backdrop of Yassine Ouhilal’s dramatic Thawscapes photographs while having a coffee at Lion & Bright or go to the Anna Leonowens Gallery for three shows: Adrian Fish, The Aquaphilia Project, documenting the behind-the-scenes machinations at the Georgia Aquarium; Lorraine Field, At the Edge of Infinity, photographs taken in the Syrian Desert before the uprising and civil war that began in 2011; and Jeff Whetstone, New Wilderness: Seducing Birds, Snakes, Men, three HD video and audio projections.

The environment is a big theme at this year’s Photopolis. Parking the Common, running to Tuesday at Dalhousie’s School of Architecture, 5410 Spring Garden Rd., is a playful, pointed show on monitors in the main entrance by photographer Kathleen Flanagan and biologist Peggy Cameron about how the historic Halifax Common, established in 1763, has been eroded by an invasive species. They give Latin names to the parking lots and buildings eating away at the land.

BEE, by American photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher, is a simply amazing exhibit of black and white photographs of bees and their body parts magnified hundreds to thousands of times. Fisher presents the spellbinding, other-worldly architecture of bee’s bodies, and she describes the processes of bees turning pollen into nectar and how they see flowers and pollen with eyes superior to ours. Bees, whose survival is threatened, are, in Fisher’s photographs, magical, magnificent, scientific wonders.

BEE is at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, which is holding over Roberto Dutesco, The Wild Horses of Sable Island, through Sunday. This series of large black and white photographs printed on aluminum reveal the horses’s characters and relationships.

The museum’s newly opened permanent exhibit, Sable Island: Over the Dunes, Beyond the Wild Horses, includes horse and island photography by Damian Lidgard and Debra Garside, whose huge, rearing horse image is visible backlit at night when the museum is closed.

The exhibit has an example of a field station on Sable Island, complete with seagull poop on the roof, a case of horse’s skulls and examples of the garbage that washes up on the island.

“It wasn’t just going to be about pretty horses,” says Jeff Gray, the museum’s curator of marketing and communications.

“For us, we wanted to talk about the garbage; it’s everyone’s responsibility.”

Mary Ellen MacIntyre, Staff Reporter, The Chronicle Herald October 21, 2014

In a taste test of tap water from around Atlantic Canada, the JD Kline Water Treatment Plant in Halifax took top honours Tuesday. (ADRIEN VECZAN / Staff)

Each standard wine glass was filled just to the quarter.

The connoisseurs twirled their glasses, lifted them to noses and inhaled deeply. A cautious tip of the glass ended with smiles all around.

Some giggled. Others laughed outright because the “nectar of the Gods” capturing their attention Tuesday was nothing but plain old water. More to the point, it was municipal water.

“This is really just for fun. You get bragging rights with this taste test,” said Robert Gillis, co-chairman of the Atlantic Canada Water and Wastewater Association’s 67th annual conference, taking place in Halifax.

“The people who work in this industry are interested in safe, clean water that tastes good, and there’s a lot of work involved in making sure of all those things.”

The 17 entries in the taste test came from municipalities across the region.

First place finish went to the JD Kline Water Treatment Plant in Halifax. Moncton’s Turtle Creek came in second and New Waterford and East Hants tied for third place.

Judges included Barb Martin and Jim Chaffee of the American Waster Works Association and Sandra Ralston of the Water Environment Federation. They rated the water on a number of qualities, much like a wine-tasting event.

“Oh, you can see they seriously rated these water samples, you can see it in the scoring,” said Gillis.

The comments on the score cards included phrases such as: “a hint of chlorine,” “earthy,” “smooth” and “light tasting.”

“We have 260 delegates to this conference, mostly from Atlantic Canada but also other parts of Canada and the United States,” said John Eisnor, also a conference co-chairman.

“There are 126 exhibitors, consultants, people from academia, suppliers, some regulators — all kinds of people who are interested in this subject.”