Current Research

Examples of Current Research

Participation in Res'Eau, a National Centre of Excellence in Small Drinking Water Systems

Assessing the vulnerability of small drinking water systems to failure, examination of alternatives strategies for developing water safety plans, and data mining to identify most likely attributes contributing to water supply failures.

Integrated Risk Management for Canadian Municipalities

A Canadian Water Network project assessing the risk characteristics of municipal water infrastructure and asset management planning in light of climate change, aging infrastructure and increasing urbanization

Research Gaps Identification in Hydraulic Fracturing

A Canadian Water Network project to identify the research gaps associated with hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas extraction

Wastewater Research Platform for the Southern Ontario Water Consortium

Development of a testing platform to allow characterization of performance of alternative and innovative treatment technologies for the treatment of wastewater

Youth Camps for First Nations

A project funded by Res-Eau and Walkerton Clean Water Centre, to project instruction to youths from several communities, on care for water issues in relation to water supply.

A variety of research projects assessing the potential for alternative instrument designs to provide real-time data on microbial contamination

NSERC-Strategic project: Protection of Water Consumers by Development of In-situ Monitoring Capabilities for Water Distribution Systems

A contaminant warning system (CWS) with the capability to detect aberrations in drinking water in real, or near real-time, represents significant value for protection of consumers from accidental or intentional contamination of drinking water. A two-tier contaminant warning system (CWS) is being investigated to employ multi-parameter sensor system to achieve the fundamental characteristics of a CWS . CWS consist of an early warning system (EWS), event detection algorithm and a confirmatory system. EWS detects any aberrations in water using multiple sensors such as free chlorine, turbidity, pH, conductivity and non-purgable organic carbon. Aberrations are interpreted and contamination is detected using Bayesian Belief Network. Once a contamination event is detected, an alarm is triggered and a real-time sample is taken for confirmatory analyses such as ATP analysis, micro-fluidic image processing, spectral fluorescence, spectrophotometry, etc. Finally, a multi-stage response procedure is used to identify the origin of contamination in drinking water distribution systems.

  • (i) Shen, H., McBean, E., and Ghazali, M., 2010, "Contaminant Source Identification for Prioritization in Water Distribution Systems", Dynamic Modeling of Urban Water Systems, Monograph 18, eds. James, W., et al., pp 485-497.
  • (ii) Huang, J., and McBean, E., 2009. "Data Mining to Identify Contaminant Event Locations In Water Distribution Systems", ASCE Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, Volume 135, Issue 6, Nov ./ Dec ., pp. 466-474.
  • (iii) Ostfeld, A., et al. 2008. "The Battle of the Water Sensor Networks (BWSN): A Design Challenge for Engineers and Algorithms", J. Water Resources Planning and Management, ASCE, Volume 134, Issue 6, pp. 556-568 (November / December)
  • (iv) Murray, S., Ghazali, M., and McBean, E., 2012. “Real-time Water Quality Monitoring Assessment of Multi-Sensor Data Using Bayesian Belief Networks”, ASCE Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, Vol. 138, No. 1, January, pp. 63-70
  • (v) Shen, H., and McBean, E., 2011. "Utility of Supercomputers in Trace-Back Algorithms for City-Sized Distribution Systems", Handbook of Water and Wastewater Systems Protection, ed., R. Clark, S. Hakim,  and A. Ostfeld, Springer-Science, pp. 419-434
  • (vi) Shen, H., and McBean, E., 2011. "Pareto Optimality for Sensor Placements in Water Distribution Systems", ASCE - Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, Vol. 137, No. 3, pp. 243-248.

Remediation of DDT-contaminated Soil

Soil contamination with persistent pesticides such as DDT is a risk to human and the environment. A surfactant-aided soil washing technique is being investigated as an alternative method for remediation of DDT-contaminated soil of a site at Ontario, Canada. An Ex-situ soil washing method is employed using mixture of non-ionic and anionic surfactants, i.e. Brij 35 and SDBS. The optimized mixture removes 70-80% of DDT and its metabolites from the contaminated soil. As well, various soil washing procedures such as flow-through and mixing systems are being investigated to determine the recipe for pilot-scale tests. The wash-off liquid is dechlorinated using zero-valent iron under anaerobic condition and low pH and/or sorption to activated carbon

  • (i) Ghazali, M., McBean, E., Shen, H., and Dastous, P., "Impact of Iron Concentration and pH on Zero-Valent Iron Dechlorination of DDT for Brownfields", Remediation Journal, accepted March 2010.
  • (ii) Ghazali, M., McBean, E., Shen, M., Anderson, W., and Dastous, P., 2010, "Remediation of DDT-Contaminated Soil Using Optimized Mixtures of Surfactants and a Mixing System", Remediation Journal, Autumn, pp. 119-131.

A Critical Evaluation of the Appropriateness of Ceramic and BioSand Filters in Rural Cambodia

The United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) #7 -Ensure Environmental Sustainability contains three key targets, one of which is: "halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation". According to the World Bank, unless significant advances are made in the water and sanitation sector, it is unlikely that Cambodia will meet the MDG target. Household or point of use (POU) water treatment technologies have been identified as successful interventions for providing safe water to rural households. Currently, there are two water treatment technologies that have been widely implemented across Cambodia: ceramic water filters and BioSand filters. Both technologies have proven to reduce diarrheal disease by up to 50%; however, to date there is very little published research that critically evaluates the performance and sustainability of these systems in the field. 

The goal of the research was to evaluate these technologies in the context of rural Cambodia. The ceramic and BioSand filters are evaluated on their performance in terms of microbiological and chemical quality of the treated water. In addition, one of the objectives was to investigate the factors that contribute to the long term sustainability of these systems in the field, and to identify factors that influence their long term use. The results are used to provide an overall assessment of the appropriateness of these technologies in rural Cambodia and provide recommendations to aid Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other groups in the decision process for choosing a point of use water treatment technology for a particular source water quality, and circumstance.

  • (i) Murphy, H., McBean, E., and Farahbakhsh, "Microbial and Chemical Assessment of Ceramic and BioSand Water Filters in Rural Cambodia", Water, Science and Technology, accepted January 2010. 
  • (ii) Murphy, H., McBean, E., and Farahbakhsh, "Nitrification, Denitrification and Ammonification in Point-of-use Biosand Filters in Rural Cambodia", Journal of Water and Health, accepted January 2010 
  • Arsenic contaminated groundwater 
  • (iii) Murphy, H., Sampson, M., McBean, E., and Farabakhsh, 2009. Influence of Household Practices on the Performance of Clay Pot Water Filters in Rural Cambodia, Desalination, 252: pp. 145-152

Risk Assessment for Small Drinking Water Systems

Various options are being employed to identify when small water treatment system have potential to fail. Fuzzy set algorithms are being used to provide guidelines.

  • (i) Summerscales, I., and McBean, E., 2011. “Application of Risk Assessment Tools to Small Drinking Water Systems in British Columbia: A Case Study”, Water Quality Research Journal of Canada, 46.4, pp. 332-344.
  • (ii) Lee, M., McBean, E., Ghazali, M., Schuster, C., and Huang, J., 2009. "Fuzzy Logic Application for Risk Assessment of a Small Drinking Water Supply System", ASCE- Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, Volume 135, Issue 6, Nov./ Dec. , pp. 547-552. 
  • (iii) Summerscales, I., and McBean, E., "Development of a Vulnerability Assessment Tool for Small Drinking Water Systems in Canada", OMWA and OWWA Conference, Windsor, Ontario May 2010.
  • (iv) Summerscales, I., and McBean, E., 2011. "Incorporation of the Multiple Barrier Approach in Drinking Water Risk Assessment Tools", Journal of Water and Health, 09.2, pp. 349-360. 

Treatment of Arsenic Contaminated Groundwater in Bangladesh

Widespread areas in Bangladesh (and elsewhere) have high contamination of arsenic in groundwater. Researches ongoing with alternative, low-tech options for water treatment for the rural poor.

  • (i)   Brennan, R., and McBean, E., 2011. "A Performance Assessment of Arsenic-Iron Removal Plants in the Manikganj District of Bangladesh", Journal of Water and Health, 09.2, pp. 317-329.
  • (ii) Brennan, R., and McBean, E., 2011. "The Role of Orthophosphate and Dissolved Oxygen in the Performance of Arsenic-Iron Removal Plants Installed by SPACE in the Manikganj District of Bangladesh", Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A, 46, pp. 1-10

Development of Water Supply Index

This research is investigating alternative formulations for indices to identify when land uses jeopardize water supply systems.

  • (i) deJong, A., McBean, E., and Gharabaghi, B., 2010. "Projected Climate Conditions to 2100 for Regina, Saskatchewan", Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering, Vol. 37, pp. 1-14.
  • (ii) Shen, H., and McBean, E., "Time-Risk Characterization Methodologies for Brownfield Redevelopment Planning", presented at CSCE Annual Meeting, St. Johns, Newfoundland, May 2009.

Impacts of Climate Change

Climate change studies are ongoing to assess the impacts on precipitation, temperature, and evapotranspiration. These assessments are being completed both within Canada and internationally.

  • (i) Motiee, H., and McBean, E., 2009, "Long-Term Assessment of Hydrology for Lake Superior", Hydrology Research Journal, 40.6, pp. 564-579 
  • (ii) McBean, E., and Motiee, H., "Progress of Climate Change in Arid and Semi-Arid Zones and Utility of Meteorological Data", (Plenary Presentation), Watarid, 2nd International Conference on Water, Ecosystem, Sustainable Development in Arid and Semi-Arid Zones, Yazd, Iran, May 5-7, 2009
  • (iii) McBean, E., deJong, A., and Gharabaghi, B., 2011. “Groundwater in Bangladesh: Implications in a Climate-Changing World”, Water Research & Management, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp 3-8.
  • (iv) McBean, E., 2010. "Trends in Desertification and Sustainability of Water Resources", World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, Year 6, Issue 69, August, pp. 1385-1394

Virus Treatment in Groundwaters

This research is investigating transport and attenuation die off of viruses in environmental media. The potential for transport in fractured bedrock is a particular focus.

  • (i) McBean, E., 2009. "Evaluation of a Bicycle-Powered Filtration System for Removing Clumped Coliform Bacteria as a Low Tech Option for Water Treatment", Desalination, Elsevier, pp 138-143.
  • (ii) Salsali, H., McBean, E., and Brunsting, J., 2011. "Virus Removal Efficiency of Cambodian Ceramic Pot Water Purifiers", Journal of Water and Health, 09.2, pp. 306-311.

Digestion of Animal Manure to Generate Methane

Alternative options of pre-treatment are being assessed to identify options for optimizing energy potential as well as toeard challenging disposal options.

  • McBean, E., "Composting for Carbon Credits: Prospects and Problems", Second International Conference on Waste Engineering and Management, Shanghai, China, 13- 15 October 2010 
  • Hilborn, V., Salsali, H., and McBean, E., "Broiler Chicken Manure as a Feedstock for Anaerobic Digesters", Growing the Margins, Biogas Conference, London, Ontario, March 2010.

Remediation of Solvent Impacts in Groundwater

Options are being investigated to determine optimal remediation for impacted soils and groundwater.

  • (i) Carey, G., and McBean, E., "Validation and Application of a NAPL Depletion Model for Predicting Remediation Timeframe", presented at Consoil Conference, Vienna, Austria, September 2010 
  • (ii) Carey, G., and McBean, E., "Uses, Benefits, and Limitations of Mass Flux and Mass Discharge: A Case Study Review", presented at Consoil Conference, Vienna, Austria, September 2010 
  • (iii) Carey, G., and McBean, E., "Sustainability and Back-diffusion Implications for the Integrated Management of DNAPL Sources and Plumes", presented at Consoil Conference, Vienna, Austria, September 2010. 
  • (IV) McBean, E., "Chlorinated Ethene Plume Migration in Groundwater at Free-Phase Petroleum Sites", keynote presentation, presented at ModelCare -7th International Conference on Calibration and Reliability in Groundwater Modeling, Wuhan, China, September 20-23, 2009.

Research into Hospital Wastes Management

Options to remove/better manage hospital wastes to decrease exposure risks.

WasteWater Node Leader

This large (60 million dollar) research platform is being developed to improve the cooperation between innovation in industry to innovation at Universities. Nodes of collaboration include wastewater, water, ecotoxicology, urbanizing watersheds, and sensors development.

Infrastructure Integrity

Assessing performance characteristics of municipal infrastructure

  • (i) Asnaarhi, A., McBean, E., Gharabaghi, B., and Tutt, A., “Forecasting Watermain Failure Using Artificial Neural Network Modeling”, Canadian Water Resources Journal, accepted Jun 2011
  • (ii) Asnaashari, A., McBean, E., Gharabaghi, B., Pourrajab, R., and Shahrour, I., 2010, "Survival Rate Analyses of Watermains: A Comparison of Case Studies for Canada and Iran", Dynamic Modeling of Urban Water Systems, Monograph 18, eds. James, W., pp. 499-508.