Improving Water Quality to Sustainable Communities and Ecosystems

By Olds College Centre for Innovation

Use of native wetland plants on cold climate floating island systems for the phyto-remediation of water with excess nutrients, the quantification of the hyper-accumulation capabilities, and the water use efficiency of each species of native wetland plants, has been the focus of the Wetland and Applied Research Program at the Environmental Stewardship division of the Olds College Centre for Innovation. 

Water and water security represents one of the key components of life and one of the core components that determines the success and failure of ecosystems.  With the potential impacts of climate change on our water supply, the urgency of protecting and cleaning water has never been more evident.  The main methods for cleaning water used today focus on the physical and chemical.  Some of these methods treat the symptoms while others allow true solutions.   However, there is another area of remediation of water that is becoming a growing interest and this is in biological and ecological engineering.  Phyto-remediation holds a potential to create functioning ecosystems that allow for water to be remediated effectively, economically, and passively. In addition to water remediation, this technology provides many other advantages such as wildlife habitat, natural ecosystem functions and nutrient cycling, and anthropogenic assistance.

Improving water quality at the source of contamination is an important goal for developing sustainable communities and vegetated treatment islands can be implemented in agricultural, indigenous, urban, industrial, and other world environments as an effective and efficient water management tool.  The results from this research show great potential for removing nutrients for in-situ water treatment using vegetated cold climate floating islands.

During the CoVid-19 pandemic, the Olds College Centre for Innovation hosted a webinar to present the findings of the projectThe webinar was recorded and can be accessed on the OCCI website here.

 

                                     

Carex aquatilis (Water Sedge) Feb 18, 2019                 Carex aquatilis (Water Sedge) Aug 01, 2019

 

 

 

 

ReFraming the WaterShed raises the roof on sustainable building

Submitted by ReThink Red Deer

For the last five years, an ambitious group of organizations, businesses, and volunteers have been busy as beavers at the Piper Creek Community Gardens. Together, we’ve done some cool things like install one of Canada’s largest Food Forests and Pollinator Gardens, restore the banks of Piper Creek, and plant lots of new beaver habitat! Oh ya, AND we hosted some hungry goats with the City’s Parks Department!

But in the summer of 2017, we were sad to see the old iconic barn be demolished for safety reasons. The site looked so empty because, in spite of all the beautiful plants growing, it’s just not the same when you know what it looked like before.

So we teamed up with our friends at Top Peg Timber Frame Construction and Living Lands Landscape and Design to host a community barn raising that replaced the beloved structure and aims to break the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Pollinator Hotel…! With a lot of hard work and persistence we secured a $25,000 grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation to host local timber framers and coordinate the project, plus $27,766 from the Government of Alberta’s Community Facility Enhancement Program, $40,000 from Co-Op’s Community Spaces program for barn materials, and official approvals (permits) from The City of Red Deer.

The new barn design is an open-air timber frame structure to harvest rainwater for the planted areas of the site and the walls serve as space for installing pollinator habitat (with the help of Living Lands) making it Canada’s largest pollinator hotel and supporting – in a BIG way – the City of Red Deer’s Pollinator Parks initiative!

Check out photos of the barn raising held on the 2019 Alberta Culture Days weekend, alongside our Fall Harvest Supper and Garlic City Market – click here.

picture of raised timberframe barn

Piper Creek Timberframe Barn – constructed by Top Peg Timber Frame Construction and High Peak Timberframing (Sept, 2019), sponsored by Alberta Real Estate Foundation, The Government of Alberta, and Federated Co-Op’s “Community Spaces” program.