Projects

Analysis of Avoided Water Utility Costs from Wildfire Risk Mitigation

Principal Investigator - Dr. Monica B. Emelko, University of Waterloo, 2012-2015

Outputs

This research has resulted in scholarly journal publications and end-user reports:

  • Manuscript. In review. Price, J.I., Renzetti, S., Dupont, D., Adamowicz, W., Emelko, M.B. Production Costs, Inefficiency, and Source Water Quality: A Stochastic Cost Frontier Analysis of Canadian Water Utilities. Land Economics.

Additionally, this research has been disseminated through several presentations:

  • Bladon, K.D., Silins, U., Flannigan, M.D., Emelko, M.B., Dupont, D.P., de Groot, B., Kienzle, S.W., Parisien, M.A., Robinne, F., Schroeder, D., Stone, M., Thompson, D.K., Tymstra, C., Wang, X., Waddington, J.M., Woolford, D.G., Wotton, B.M. Minimizing Wildfire Risk to Municipal Water Works by Active Source Water Protection. AWWA Water Quality and Technology Conference, Long Beach, CA, November 3-7, 2013.
  • Silins, U., Bladon, K.D., Wang, X., Robinne, F.*, Emelko, M.B., Flannigan, M., Dupont, D., Parisien, M.A., Renzetti, S., Tymstra, C., Schroeder, D., Thompson, D., de Groot, B., Kienzle, S., Wolford, D., Stone, M., Waddington, M., Devito, K., Wotton, M. Management of wildfire risk to downstream municipal drinking water treatment in Alberta. Wildland Fire Canada: 2014 Conference, Halifax, NS, Oct. 7-9, 2014.
  • Emelko, M.B., Silins, U. Keynote address. Forests, wildfire, and drinking water security: A mandate for active source water protection. International Wildland Fire Conference, Halifax, NS, Canada. Oct. 7-9, 2014.

This research project has held several key end-user oriented workshops:

  • 11/04/2014: Western Canada Water / Western Canada Water Environment Association workshop: “Surface water quality and watershed protection: What you need to know”, Red Deer, AB.
  • 3/09/2015: 40th Annual Alberta Water and Wastewater Operators Association (AWWOA) Seminar, Pre-seminar workshop “Fires, floods, and other extreme events: Is your utility ready?”, Banff, AB.
  • 10/25/2015: Canadian National Conference on Drinking Water. “Fires, floods, and other extreme events: Is your utility ready?”, Whistler, BC.

Outcomes

Outcomes include:

  • Increased knowledge with the development of a cost function for estimating water treatment costs based on water quality and treatment typologies. The identification and analysis of additional operating costs associated with highly variable and/or rapidly changing water quality are types of costs that are not commonly identified nor quantified.
  • Informing investment decisions with the utilization of the project’s cost function analysis (for estimating water treatment costs based on water quality and treatment typology) and identification and anticipated analysis of additional operational costs to evaluate the City of Calgary's drinking water treatment master plan.
  • Increased opportunity for future research. Both the developed cost function and the new knowledge regarding operating costs associated with highly variable and/or rapidly changing water quality can be integrated into research focused investigations of water treatment reliability and evaluations of source water protection approaches as an alternative to infrastructure investments.
  • Informing investment decisions allowing utilities to make more informed decisions regarding investment in specific types of risk management approaches (e.g., treatment infrastructure vs. source water protection) and increase the ability to manage risks.  This will also allow the government to better evaluate the potential cost implications associated with promoting and/or requiring pre-emptive risk mitigation in vulnerable drinking water source watersheds to justify the need for pre-emptive risk mitigation planning in regulatory frameworks such as drinking water safety plans.