U of Waterloo grads win AWWA awards for drinking water Master’s papers

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Two graduates of the University of Waterloo’s WaterSTP program have won academic achievement awards from the American Water Works Association for their Master’s thesis papers on drinking water.

Kelsey Kundert, Senior Project Process Engineer at the City of Calgary, and Nik Knezic, current PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo, won first and second place, respectively, in the international competition that will honour their work at a Texas event in June, where the researchers will also receive a cash prize for their efforts.

Kundert won for his thesis on coupled chemically-assisted filtration approaches for increasing filter resilience and performance during drinking water treatment.

“The goal of this research was to develop an approach for rapid detection of filter performance degradation and methods to assist with prediction of coagulant dosages for increased filter resilience,” Kundert wrote in his paper’s abstract.

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Kundert’s study found that development of filter performance dashboards can be used to detect underlying conditions that can lead to filter upset conditions, such as early breakthrough or other correctable process oscillations that lead to reduced operational resilience.

Also, in the Ontario portion of the competition, Knezic won for his thesis on the addition of coagulant for managing sediment-associated phosphorus bioavailability. This can prevent cyanobacterial blooms in drinking water reservoirs, he found.

“This study demonstrated that significant amounts of phosphorus were readily released from fine sediment in the study reservoir, suggesting the need for fine sediment management,” Knezic wrote in his paper’s abstract.

Knezic said that a series of lab- and field-scale analyses were conducted to (i) describe phosphorus release from fine sediment in a raw water reservoir (ii) characterize its availability for biological uptake (iii) evaluate phosphorus inactivation by application of common coagulants (FeCl3, alum, PACl), and (iv) evaluate the combination of strategically-timed reservoir dredging and coagulant application on phosphorus inactivation and turbidity reduction.

Both award winners studied with the Water Science, Technology & Policy Group (WaterSTP) at the University of Waterloo and are members of the forWater Network, a pan-Canadian interdisciplinary network focused on drinking water source water protection in forested landscapes.

The Academic Achievement Awards date back to 1966.

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