On June 24th, the SOWC and the University of Guelph hosted a networking and information-sharing event to celebrate a milestone in developing the SOWC wastewater platform. Largely based around engaging local partners and the private sector, over 125 participants from the academic, public and industry sectors attended to learn about SOWC and how the overall project will help drive new innovations and regional economies, such as through the new wastewater pilot facility in Guelph.
The event highlighted opportunities for universities, private industry, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations to work together to develop, test, and pilot market-driven water technologies that are in high demand both here at home and around the world. It is anticipated that through these collaborative efforts, the SOWC project will lead to the creation of many high-quality jobs, resulting from the growth of existing companies, creation of new companies, and the expansion of public sector jobs in the water industry.
“The Government of Canada is committed to supporting innovative projects, to ensure that communities and businesses in southern Ontario can continue to grow now and in the future,” said the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) who provided opening remarks. “We are pleased to invest in the Southern Ontario Water Consortium project which encourages the research, development and testing of water-related technologies, while creating jobs throughout the region.”
“The SOWC is a unique project, not only to the Southern Ontario region, but world-wide,” said Liz Sandals, Guelph MPP and Minister of Education for Ontario who was also on hand to provide remarks. “Guelph is playing a vital role in the project through its involvement in multiple modules within the Consortium, and this will help strengthen the region by retaining and expanding local water and wastewater technology business. The Government of Ontario is proud to support such an organization.”
Presentations by Dr. John Livernois, Associate Vice-President, Research provided an overview of water research at the University of Guelph. Brenda Lucas, Operations Manager of SOWC and Dr. Ed McBean, Professor of Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Water Supply Security at the University of Guelph, as well as the SOWC Wastewater Node Leader, provided details of the collaborative effort of eight Universities to build the SOWC platform and in particular, the partnership between the University of Guelph and the City of Guelph to develop the SOWC Guelph Wastewater Node.
Participants were given the opportunity to engage industry leaders through a panel discussion titled “Leading in the Water Sector – Where We Are, Where We Are Going, and SOWC’s Role.” Moderated by Lloyd Longfield, President and CAO, Guelph Chamber of Commerce, the panelists included David Ellis of GeoSyntec, Linda Gowman of Trojan Technologies, and Greg Westbrook of ClearCove Systems Inc. Focusing on collaborative approaches to water research and development across sector boundaries; funding, competiveness and technology demonstration were all highlighted within the discussion.
After the networking and information session, those interested took a short bus ride to the Guelph SOWC Wastewater Pilot Facility, located at the Guelph Wastewater Treatment Plant, for a preview tour of the site. The pilot facility is being constructed in partnership with the City, and will provide researchers and private industry access to a variety of wastewater process streams from the municipal plant, a critical element for companies wishing to demonstrate the effectiveness of technologies with “live” sewage. The facility is scheduled to be operational in this fall.