After nine months of planning, the 39th annual conference of the B.C. Water and Waste Association opened this weekend in Kelowna, with training sessions, competitions and discussions about the future of water treatment.
Mike Gosselin, manager of Kelowna’s wastewater treatment facilities, is chairman of the organizing committee for this year’s conference, which hasn’t been held in Kelowna for a couple of decades.
While main conference sessions will be held at the Delta Grand Hotel, the tradeshow portion will be at the Kelowna Curling Club. Delegates will be bused from other hotels each of the five days.
In addition to the more serious sessions, there will be competitions such as pump tear-downs and top-ops, both of which test teams of operators from different areas of the province in their daily work skills.
And there’ll be talk of the industry’s future, such as innovations like “purple pipes,” where treated effluent is re-used. Gosselin said there are some pilot projects underway now recycling wastewater.
B.C.’s new environment minister, Terry Lake, was to open the conference Sunday, speaking to the more than 1,300 delegates.
Described as the largest water industry conference in Western Canada, it will run until Wednesday, with dozens of speakers addressing topics ranging from the economic value of water to whether GHG emissions reduction has altered B.C.’s biosolids management baskets.
Attending will be those who manage the province’s water systems, ensuring tapwater is safe, and the wastewater systems that treat it once it’s been used, before it’s discharged into the environment.
They are employees of municipal operations, private water utilities and consultants in related fields.
The BCWWA has a membership of 4,400. This year’s conference is called Converging Streams: Pooling Knowledge.
While the conference is underway, Drinking Water Week, May 1 to 7, will be proclaimed as an opportunity to celebrate and value water as a vital and finite resource, said Daisy Foster, CEO of the association.
The idea is to make people more aware of where their water comes from, where it goes when they’ve used it and what to do to conserve it and help protect the environment, she explained.
Some of the messages the association wants to get out include ways to conserve water and protect the resource, including taking shorter showers, using efficient appliances, avoiding watering the lawn in summer, not flushing pharmaceuticals down the toilet and not pouring other poisons down the drain.
She noted the average Canadian personally uses 329 litres of water a day, twice the amount used by Europeans, but they think they use less than a third of what they actually do.