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Sturgeon County to test water pollution detector

U of A tech spots disease in hours instead of days
0911 lead DR29
DAN RIEDLHUBER/St. Albert Gazette

Sturgeon County staff plan to field test a device that could help them more quickly spot pollutants in drinking water.

Sturgeon County council voted Feb. 9 to sign an agreement with Roshan Water Solutions Inc. to field-test the company’s new VeloCens water pollution detector.

Roshan Water Solutions is an Edmonton-based company that came out of research at the University of Alberta, county utility and waste services manager Jeffrey Yanew told council.

Right now, cities do regular tests for harmful pollutants such as E.coli by sending water samples to a lab, said Roshan co-founder Amirreza Sohrabi in an interview. This typically takes up to five days, during which any pollutants the tests might detect are allowed to flow unchecked.

Sohrabi said he and co-founder Parmiss Mojir Shaibani had built an electrochemical device that uses a computer, chemicals and a special cartridge to detect E.coli in an hour. They are now working with Yellowhead County, the Alberta Capital Region Wastewater Commission and the St. Mary Irrigation District to test their device under real-world conditions. If the device works, it could help communities spot water pollution problems more rapidly.

Yanew said the county would have to pay about $400 for materials to participate in the test, which would see a county staffer take 10 water samples and test them using both the device and standard laboratory methods to determine the device’s accuracy.

Mayor Alanna Hnatiw said this is a great initiative, and that having the ability to do quick water quality tests is very important.

Sohrabi said he and Shaibani hope to create new cartridges that could detect other contaminants (such as salmonella) as well as a recycling program for them. They hope to have this field test competed by April.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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