Ontario’s burgeoning water technology industry is in step with efforts in other countries to build international ties and learn from innovative efforts in areas where freshwater is a scarce commodity.
Earlier in 2012, the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) and Mekorot Israel National Water Company Ltd. signed a letter of intent for multi-year cooperation to partner on international bid opportunities, exchange information and best practices. More recently, a delegation of Israeli companies came to Toronto for an idea exchange organized by the Government of Israel Economic Mission to Canada, the National Energy and Water Program (NEWTech) and the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute (IEICI).
“Canadians have good knowledge of the technologies coming out of Israel but it is always beneficial for them to hear from the people who implement them as their core business. It is also beneficial for the Israel companies to understand the Canadian business environment and procurement models for both public entities and private enterprise,” the Israel Consul for Economic Affairs noted in an accompanying statement.
The companies showcased water technology innovations such as advanced drip-line technologies for industrial use, desalination technologies, and industrial water and wastewater treatment solutions. Such developments, in and outside Ontario, also present municipalities and the commercial building sector with potential resources to meet evolving water technology needs.
Public and private sector requirements
Public policy and private sector initiatives linked to water conservation and sustainable buildings recognize the growing need for a more efficient approach to water management in Canada. Ontario’s Water Opportunities Act goes further in attempting to link it to economic development.
One of the Act’s primary goals is to “make Ontario the North American leader in the development and sale of water conservation and treatment technologies.” The Act additionally established the Water Technology Acceleration Partnership (WaterTAP) to support research, development and commercializing Ontario water sector technologies.
Municipalities have been front and centre in the water technology conversation, especially with the federal wastewater systems effluent regulations coming into force July 18, 2012. The regulations mandate that municipal facilities must meet a new baseline for effluent quality standards and begin reporting in 2013.
Large commercial buildings and shopping centres have been working toward reducing their per capita water use as greater attention is paid to increased cost and water’s relationship to carbon emissions. The industry is also responding to competitive performance benchmarks set by the Real Property Association of Canada (REALpac) and water efficiency requirements in the Building Owners and Managers Association’s Building Environmental Standards (BOMA BESt) performance monitoring and certification program.
REALpac’s 2011 report, Water Management: A Benchmark for Canadian Office Buildings, earmarked cooling towers, domestic use and landscape irrigation as the major uses of water in office buildings. The 2011 BOMA BESt Energy and Environmental Report likewise confirms, “buildings up to 500,000 square feet use less water per square metre than buildings that are 500,000 square feet (or more) in size. This finding may be due to the presence of food courts, cooling towers, water cooled HVAC systems or other special uses in larger buildings.”
Throughout the two-day Ontario-Israel water technology forum, members of the Israeli delegation met with municipal representatives and Ontario-based engineering and construction firms. Prior to the event, some Israeli companies had already made inroads in Canada.
Amiad Water Systems has installed a filtration system at the municipal water treatment facility in the town of Deer Lake in Newfoundland and Labrador, although its technologies – low and no energy filters for chemicals, polymers and back-flush water – have been primarily applied in cooling towers. Bermad Water Control Solutions produces hydraulic controls that municipalities around the world use for water supply, treated wastewater and water leakage prevention.
Netafim is expanding its already well-known drip-irrigation technology from primarily agricultural uses into mining, landscaping and greenhouses. This channels small amounts of water directly to the root of a plant, thus, reducing the rate of evaporation, and provides a water-conserving irrigation mechanism for green roofs, traffic islands and/or landscaping.
It will now be left to potential buyers and sellers to take further steps. Ultimately, a wider range of products means more choice and opportunity to better manage water.
Meirav Even-Har is a Toronto-based sustainability consultant and writer.