What’s Upstream, Comes Down

September 2017: Up Here Magazine

The Mackenzie River stretches more than 1,700 kilometres and drains a 1.8-million-square-kilometre swath of land—a fifth of the country. It’s Canada’s largest watershed and the tenth largest in the world, and its main stem and tributaries form the natural highways that connect communities. They are the lifeblood of ecosystems that support people and wildlife throughout the North.

Dubbed the Cold Amazon, the largely intact Mackenzie watershed also helps to regulate Earth’s climate—as both a giant storehouse for carbon and a refrigerator through alternating seasons of ice cover and flowing water. Changes in the watershed affect the entire planet, and the people who live here say many climatic changes have already begun, including melting permafrost that triggers landslides and releases carbon from the previously frozen soil.

For the last century, a patchwork of land-use and management policies have been passed by towns, territories and provinces that often fail to account for the vast watershed’s interconnected features. Water used by British Columbia’s Peace Region’s hydroelectric dams and oil and gas projects, and Alberta’s oil sands, flows north through communities in the Northwest Territories, and eventually spills out across the Mackenzie Delta and into the Arctic Ocean. What happens upstream has major implications for those living downstream.

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Fixing Our Lifelines

June 2013: Canada Foundation for Innovation (Part of an in-depth online report on Canada’s Infrastructure Gap.)

Queen’s University civil engineers have the pulse on the water pipes, gas lines and sewers that lie beneath our feet.

We all know it’s there, but it’s easy to take for granted. Buried beneath the ground is a network of pipes that not only makes your life bearable but also keeps you alive. Just like other types of infrastructure, these old water pipes, gas lines and storm sewers are starting to break down, and fixing them is an expensive undertaking.

Read the rest of this story at innovation.ca

The Purest Water in the World?

Photo: Flickr/fox_kiyo
Photo: Flickr/fox_kiyo

June 2011: Canadian Geographic

In a tiny village near Toronto, the water contains less lead than the cleanest ice layers in the Arctic.

If you look closely at the countryside surrounding Elmvale, Ont., a tiny village about 90 minutes north of Toronto, you’ll see the natural and ever-gushing wells of the aptly named Springwater township.

The locals have always known that their water is clean, but they’re only beginning to understand just how clean.

Read the rest of this story at canadiangeographic.ca