A handheld ‘tricorder’ that can test for biological contamination in real-time has been the dream of science fiction fans for decades. And UBC Okanagan engineers say the technology is closer to science fact than ever before. Using a small and inexpensive biosensor, researchers in the School of Engineering have developed a novel low-cost technique that quickly and accurately detects cryptosporidium contamination in water samples.
A former employee of the Town of Oyen in southern Alberta has been fined $1,000 for not monitoring the town's drinking water over a seven-year period. Darcy Dobrosky worked for the town for 37 years and was grandfathered into the public works foreman job. One of his duties was to monitor the town's drinking water — despite failing the formal certification required to do the job.
For the past 14 years, Colville Lake, N.W.T. has been under a boil water advisory.The reason isn't due to lack of access to a water treatment plant or proper training to operate it — the community doesn't bother to send water samples to the territorial government for sampling because residents believe their water is clean enough to drink straight from the lake.
Amber Sears removes a glass stopper from a beaker, gives the contents a swirl and takes a whiff.
The 23-year-old is a water lab technician and sniffing is her job.
"You're smelling for musty and earthy smells," Sears said. "That's what happens when the spring runoff happens, when the vegetation comes into the water."
She checks the scent wheel which offers descriptors like fishy, swampy and flowery. The wheel helps testers like Sears circle in on the aromatic analysis of our drinking water.