Queen's University

Centre for Water and the Environment

Development of a Water Quantity/Quality Model
in the Tay Watershed


The Centre for Water and the Environment at Queen's University is undertaking a 5-year project that will position Ontario as one of the world's leading research centres in drinking water.  The project will apply a new paradigm for protecting drinking water from the watershed through treatment and dristribution systems to the tap.  It is an approach that aims to eliminate waterborne diseases.

Source water quality is determined by the types and quantities of contaminants in the watershed.  The presence of contaminants is determined mainly by land use.  Innovative technologies will be developed to assess the relationship between land use and potential sources of point and non-point source contaminants.  Watershed models will be developed that apply land use data to predict the likelihood of contaminant runoff with snowmelt and rainfall.  These predictions will be used with numerical flow models to describe the distribution and concentration of contaminants in surface water and groundwater.

Raw water supplies may be contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli 0157:H7 and parasites such as Cryptosporidium.  Current methods for detecting these contaminants takes several days, preventing water treatment plants from adjusting their disinfection procedures accordingly.  Rapid methods will be developed to detect contaminants in raw water supplies.

Disinfection procedures at water treatment plants will also be studied.  Existing methods will be optimized and new methods will be developed to target contaminants present in water supplies and likely to reach treatment plants.  Disinfection efficiencies of the various methods will be analysed, including the effectiveness of disinfection residuals to maintain control of pathogens within the water distribution system.

This project engages the expertise of researchers from Queen's University, University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, and University of Waterloo, and from the private sector.  Funding for this 9 million dollar project has been secured from three sources: the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund (3 million); Queen's University (3 million); and a collection of funds from a category called "industry".  RVCA has committed $50,000 to $80,000 annually for three years in the "industry" category.  Other contributions from industry include consultants who would benefit from the technology developed as part of this project.

Tay River Watershed Modelling Module:

The watershed management tools to be developed will consist of a suite of numerical models and decision/risk-based software.  The models and software will be entirely terrain-based and, thus, will be transferable between watersheds within Ontario and can be utilized at the sub-watershed level.  These tools will allow for the appropriate response to requests for water taking, management of existing water taking, determination of the impacts of development, management of the potential impact of large-scale agricultural activities, and the protection and management of rural water supplies.

A significant field data collection program will be carried out in the Tay River watershed.  The data is needed to calibrate and verify the watershed models being developed.  The information to be collected will include water levels, water flow rates, water samples for analysis, and general observations in the watershed.

The field data collection program will take place over the course of three seasons, initiating in spring 2004.  Data collection tasks will be split between research scientists and graduate students from Queen's University and the volunteer efforts of local citizens.  For the volunteers, various simplified testing methodologies will be developed, based on cost effectiveness, accuracy, and ease.

If you would like further information on volunteer requirements and the timing of the field study, or if you have data that may be useful for the project, please contact Dr. Kevin Hall at 613-533-2127 or [email protected]

Present-day scientific tools are inadequate to meet the needs expressed in the proposed source protection plans.  This project is a very important step in learning more about managing water and watersheds.  While the Tay Watershed will be used as a study case, the outcomes of the research will be applicable to other watersheds across Ontario.  We are fortunate that the Centre for Water and the Environment has chosen our community for research.  When the call comes, please be prepared to give a few hours of your time to ensure that we get the most information from this opportunity.

contact Friends of the Tay Watershed