SOURCE: Canadian Geographic Enterprises

Canadian Geographic Enterprises

March 19, 2015 14:59 ET

Ross Thurston: World Water Day Hero

Canadian's Invention Turns Manure Into Clean Drinking Water

OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - March 19, 2015) - When you have Bill Gates tricking 'The Tonight Show' host Jimmy Fallon into drinking water derived from human waste, you know water security has become an issue.

On March 22, World Water Day, the world will pause to celebrate the people who are finding innovative solutions to safeguard our water. Like Bill Gates, Calgary chemist Ross Thurston finds pleasure in making dirty water clean. His Livestock Water Recycling (LWR) system segregates and concentrates nutrients while recycling clean water from livestock manure. It's the only manure management system on the market that can recapture water and produce zero waste.

Manure management is becoming a water security building block. Ross Thurston believes the sector wants a solution to the animal waste problem. "Dairies are fundamentally environmental," says Thurston."They recycle, they recover, they reuse. A lot of their feed is by-product feed. They just haven't had a tool to deal with their manure." 

It's for this ingenuity that Thurston recently won the 3M Environmental Innovation Award. "3M Canada celebrates individual passion and curiosity that leads to improving every life on earth," says Liisa Sheldrick, Communications and Community Relations Manager, 3M Canada. "Ross Thurston is our kind of hero for developing a technology that turns dirty water clean."

Why is water from manure important? Agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of all water consumption across the globe. The ability to use water sustainably and keep it clean is becoming a global priority. The LWR system reduces fresh water withdrawals on dairy and hog farms by 40 per cent. It also reduces manure volume by up to 85 per cent. This makes fertilizer storage more manageable and when applied reduces the risk of harmful runoff. On one U.S. farm alone, Thurston's system is expected to treat 30 million gallons of liquid manure annually and recycle that manure into 18 million gallons of clean water. Out of that same manure six million gallons of liquid nutrient will be filtered, recovering between 6 and 12 thousand tonnes of solid fertilizer. The LWR system helps farmers on two fronts: livestock run-off does not end up in the local water systems and saves on fertilizer costs.

It's estimated that by the year 2050 farmers will need to increase world food production by 70% in order to meet the needs of 9 billion people. With this increased demand the agricultural sector is under pressure to improve how it uses water resources. California is a good example of how drought is impacting its ability to produce food. While in the Midwest, keeping water clean is the issue. The increase of toxic algal blooms in the Great Lakes resulted in the City of Toledo's water becoming undrinkable for days. The U.S. does not want a repeat performance of this event. Last month the House of Representatives ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fight toxic algal blooms. Innovation is the way of the future and it looks like the LWR System may be the future of manure management. More information about Ross Thurston and the LWR system is available in the April edition of Canadian Geographic magazine on newsstands across Canada by March 31.

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Contact Information

  • For more information, please contact:

    Deborah Chapman                                                                         
    Communications Manager                                                                
    The Royal Canadian Geographical Society                                   
    O (613) 613‐745‐4629 ext. 160                                                        
    C (613) 299‐8995                                                                            
    Email: chapman@rcgs.org

    Lisa Fast
    Marketing Coordinator
    Livestock Water Recycling, Inc.
    O 403-297-0939
    Toll Free 1 855-LWR-4972
    Email: lisa.fast@livestockwaterrecycling.com
    www.livestockwaterrecycling.com