The future of water management: A life-source rather than a resource

Dr. Nicholas Ashbolt

Professor Nicholas Ashbolt, with the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, is at the vanguard of the next generation of water custodians.

Dr. Nicholas Ashbolt

The introduction of water-treatment and waste management protocols is one of the most important advancements in the fight against infectious diseases in our communities. However, rapid population growth and climate change are placing pressure on existing and aging systems, making officials more motivated than ever to find cost-effective alternatives. 

Leading the way forward is Dr. Nicholas Ashbolt, a professor with the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. He has gathered a diverse team of experts who are united by one goal: to preserve precious freshwater for drinking by finding creative ways to capture storm and rain water and to reuse wastewater for most of our water needs.

While these practices are widely accepted in many arid and warm regions, including Arizona, California, Israel, and Australia, promoting acceptance and confidence in the value and safety of reused water remains a challenge in Canada, as does our cold climate.  

Dr. Ashbolt’s research seeks to demonstrate the value of a “one-water approach”. It considers the economic benefits associated with reduced water service costs made possible by resource (energy, nutrient and water) recovery water services, increasing our ability to deal with social and climate events and restoring our aquatic ecosystems. Social survey and scientific evidenced-based data will be collected to help planners; and, when combined with novel information on how to manage emerging contaminants of concern, will provide a framework for a more holistic way to treat water as a life-source, rather than a simple resource to use once and discard.  

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