$799,991 wetlands study grant
Grant money keeps raining for Olds College research projects, as the college recently announced it had received a $799,991 grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation to finish constructing the wetlands and to install water recirculation pumps and wireless monitoring technology.
Once all that is done, the college will team up with industry partners to study how wetlands can effectively decontaminate polluted water.
“We have a series of four research ponds, where we will be testing how we can use wetland plants to decontaminate and remove pollutants from the water, so that it can clean water from runoff,” said Dickson Atuke, Olds College lead wetlands scientist.
“We can apply that to even the water that comes from oilsands, so that if they have wetlands, then they can use a mixture of the plants that will be tested here.”
Olds College started building the wetlands in 2009, after the project was developed by the Olds College Centre for Innovation (OCCI) and industry partners.
“Partners from industry said we needed a facility like this, where they have their own ideas and then there are people that can do the research for them,’ said Atuke.
“They come up with ideas and we test them here.”
Thanks to the grant money, the wetlands construction will be done by August.
“We want it to be state of the art that all other people in Canada can emulate, maybe set up theirs like we have set up ours,” said Atuke.
“The neat thing about this project is people or industries, scientists, or other researchers, will have the opportunity to access data.”
Scientists and researchers will have access to real-time data from the ponds, thanks to wireless technology and handheld instruments.
“With the click of a computer mouse, we will be able to determine what are the nutrients in that pond,” said Atuke.
OCCI staff, Olds College faculty, and students will test different levels of polluted water in the wetlands and they will experiment with different flow rates, as well as different residence times for the water to move from pond to pond.
Once the water has been decontaminated, it will go to a holding pond, where it will be used for irrigation by the college.