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Canada's role grows amid looming world water shortages in some places, more flooding in others

f low-lying parks, farm fields or golf course for a week or two during major rain events to prevent flooding in urban areas. Says Dr. Schreier: "It is cheaper to compensate landowners than to scale up municipal water infrastructure."

Among other experts expected:

  • American microbiologist Rita Colwell, Chief Scientist at Canon US Life Sciences, former Director of the US National Science Foundation, and winner of the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize.

    She warns that "extreme weather events associated with global warming can lead to a breakdown in sanitation, sewage treatment plants and water treatment systems."

    "Indeed, because the bacteria are part of the natural environment, we could again begin to see epidemics of cholera in the U.S. and in Europe that we haven't seen in almost 100 years," she adds.

    "To prepare, we need to understand the ecology of these infective agents in the natural environment as part of the environment that we humans inhabit in order to explain, understand, and prevent infectious diseases."

  • Judy Isaac-Renton, Professor, University of British Columbia, and Director, Public Health Laboratory Director, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control.

    She and a team of scientists working in the labs at BCCDC, along with social scientists and other partners across Canada, are pioneering the application of genetic science to water quality assessment.

    "We have very little knowledge of microbial life in water, but with new genetic tools we can analyze all the DNA in a water sample to get a rapid assessment of health risks," she says.

    "Until now, safe water testing has relied on a century-old technology of growing bacteria in a lab to see whether anything harmful is there. It's effective but slow and tedious. The new 'meta-genomics' technology offers not only the possibility of rapid safety assessments, but also the ability to detect and determine the origins of con

Contact: Terry Collins
Canadian Water Network

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