4A: Down the Drain Challenge, Fort McMurray, Ved Varshney

Environment   Nov 6, 2018 by Ved
  • What types of things went down your sink?
    • Most things that went down the drain that I would otherwise not think about are things like tea, coffee, soaps, and detergents.
  • Estimate the volume of liquids that went down the drain? Did you include a way to measure how much liquid went down?
    • I used a water calculator to estimate the amount of water that I use on a daily basis(https://www.cbc.ca/pei/features/watercalculator/). I was genuinely surprised and ashamed about the amount of water I consumed from just simple everyday activities like showering and using the washroom. The calculator showed that I used approximately 344.2 liters of water per day, of which the largest contributor was showering at 240 liters. This calculator really made me rethink the things that I do on a daily basis.
  • How much of this waste do you think enters the ocean? Do you know how wastewater is treated in your city? 
    • Fortunately, the city of Fort McMurray has an excellent method of removing particles and bacteria from the wastewater. I have toured the facility, and visibly looking at the outflow from the plant gives me an impression that the water is definitely suitable to be returned to Canadian waterways. However, the micro-particles in the outflow were invisible or hard to see. Moreover, water that enters through the storm water system does not get cleaned from the municipality, and chemicals that could've been added from things like washing cars or other activities may be harmful to the biodiversity with the river.
  • There are many drains that we interact with everyday that may lead waste into our waterways. Besides your bathroom and kitchen, are there any other drains that may lead to the ocean?
    • Our garage has a drain there, but that mostly just drains out any excess water that may have found a way into the garage. 
    • Appliances also utilize water, washing machines, dishwashers, and fridges also use water that is sent to the waste water treatment plant
  • check the label of the clothing you are currently wearing. Anything that is not cotton is likely a synthetic blend (aka: plastic). In each wash, these microfibers are released. What happens to them then? 
    • Most shirts that I own are made from cotton. However,some of my clothing is a blend of cotton and another synthetic fiber. In the wash, these microfibers are removed from the article of clothing and enter the wastewater treatment plant. Most of these fibers are too small to be caught by the filters, so they end up in waterways. Consequently, fish can eat these fibers, and since the digestive tract is not designed to digest plastics, the fibers have the potential to remain in marine life for their lifetime. This not only has a negative effect on the marine life, but is also has an impact on those who eat seafood.

Through this challenge, I recognized the amount of water that I use in a single day. Moreover, I realized the types of things that I do put down the drain. Because of this challenge, I have become more conscious about the amount of water that I use and will actively seek out new methods of reducing my water footprint.

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1 Comment(s)

Dec 8, 2018

Wow! I learned much more than I thought about how Fort McMurray handles and treats water-waste.