Happy World Water Day! In honour of this important day, we thought we would interview one of our board members Sarah Gore about the importance of clean water and why it should not be taken for granted. Sarah is the manager of Environment and Planning with J.L. Richards & Associates Limited, Ottawa.
Read on to learn more about Sarah and what her role with the Foundation entails!
Name: Sarah Gore
Hometown: Sudbury, ON
School: University of Guelph, BSc Engineering (Water Resources)
Work: J.L. Richards & Associates Limited
Q: How did you become interested in water engineering?
A: I attended University of Guelph’s Water Resources Engineering Program and shortly after graduating, Walkerton’s drinking water system became contaminated with a deadly bacteria. Seven people died and more than 2,000 became ill. The community was devastated and the losses were enormous. The tragedy triggered an alarm about the safety of drinking water across the province. The government of Ontario responded by calling an inquiry, which resulted in findings and recommendations to ensure the safety of the water supply and treatment systems in Ontario. As noted, a number of other actions were taken after Walkerton, including the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (formerly known as the Ministry of the Environment) issuing new regulations governing drinking water in our province. One of the key features of the new regulations was the requirement to produce an independent Engineers’ Report on all water systems.
As a result of this requirement, I spent a good part of the earlier years of my profession visiting water treatment facilities across the province, speaking with operators and staff, reviewing infrastructure, conducting risk assessments and developing recommendations for upgrades. During this time, the drinking water profession, as a whole, worked together to the benefit of consumers and drinking water providers. To this day, I continue to be involved in the ongoing maintenance and improvement of water and wastewater treatment infrastructure in Ontario.
Q: What is your hope for the future of water technology?
A: My hope for water technology is that people will continue to acknowledge and strengthen their appreciation for the value of drinking water. When we turn on our taps, we take it for granted that treated drinking water appears. We also take for granted that it will disappear when it has served its purpose. While water is perceived to be unlimited in Canada, there is a real cost to ensuring it is safely delivered to our homes and returned to the environment. Aging infrastructure, population growth, and regulatory requirements are driving the need to invest in our supply and treatment systems. At the same time, we are challenged with balancing lack of funding and push back of public opinion. We need to recognize that water and waste water infrastructure should be a priority and there is a cost to protecting our health and environment.
Q: How did you hear about Ryan’s Well and become interested in becoming a board member?
A: Over the past few years, I attended several Ryan’s Well events and felt truly inspired by the work the Foundation does. I was introduced to the Foundation through a former Board member, who recognized that there was an opportunity for me to become involved with Ryan’s Well. Having worked in the drinking water profession in Ontario for a number of years, I felt a need to expand upon my experience and help those in the poorest regions of the worlds’ developing countries in obtaining access to safe drinking water.