A harmful algal bloom in the western basin of Lake Erie in August 201A harmful algal bloom in the western basin of Lake Erie in August 2017. (NOAA/Aerial Associates Photography, Inc. by Zachary Haslick/flickr)

Climate change threatens drinking water systems: researchers

Canadians have come to expect access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water, as well as access to lakes and rivers for recreational use. However, a legacy of natural resource extraction and industrial use, together with new pressures on freshwater ecosystems, challenge the integrity and sustainable use of the Great Lakes, says a group of UWindsor researchers.

In an article published Dec. 22 in the Conversation, which shares news and views from the academic and research community, Mike McKay, Joel Gagnon, John Hartig, Ken Drouillard, and K.W. Michael Siu write that environmental concerns compromise beneficial uses of the lakes and connecting rivers.

“Most people who call Ontario home live within the watershed of one of our four Great Lakes: Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario. Over 80 per cent of Ontarians receive their drinking water from the lakes.

“Considering the high dependency within the province on the Great Lakes, we are fortunate that the protection of these source waters is a priority of Ontario’s Clean Water Act.”

However, they raise concerns that current programs may not provide protection in the future, and call for investment in municipal infrastructure to help ensure a safe and secure water supply.

“These investments need to consider old threats,” they write, such as replacing lead service lines and antiquated plumbing, with new tools to address increased storm-induced discharge events, nutrient remobilization, and harmful algal blooms produced under a changing climate.

“The adage holds true — an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

Read the entire piece, “Great Lakes waters at risk from buried contaminants and new threats,” in the Conversation.

Article among publication’s 10 most-read for 2019

The Conversation Canada listed an article by UWindsor kinesiology professor Francesco Biondi among its 10 most-viewed stories published in 2019.

The call for greater public education on the functions and limitations of vehicle automation reached 172,116 readers, placing it seventh on the publication’s year-end list. Read Dr. Biondi’s piece, “A user’s guide to self-driving cars,” in the Conversation.

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