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Preventing pollution: 'Clean Water Machine’ to filter ag runoff in the Holland Marsh
Preventing pollution: 'Clean Water Machine’ to filter ag runoff in the Holland Marsh

Preventing pollution: 'Clean Water Machine’ to filter ag runoff in the Holland Marsh

The technology could prevent nutrients such as phosphorus from reaching the Great Lakes 


By Kaitlynn Anderson

Staff Reporter


In February, University of Idaho researchers will visit Ontario’s Holland Marsh to test the effectiveness of a new technology in treating agricultural runoff, according to a Capital Press article on Friday.

The portable invention, known as the Clean Water Machine, filters elements such as phosphorus, nitrogen and heavy metals from up to 21,000 gallons (79493.6 litres) of water per day, the article stated.

The process uses water, air, sand, rust, electricity and biochar to remove the nutrients from the runoff.

The team will conduct a three-month trial in the Marsh “to address the (large amount of) runoff that occurs with the spring melt (by trying) to remove and recover nutrients, and aid the agricultural community,” Greg Moller, an environmental chemist and toxicologist on the team, said in the article.

This filtration system could help the agricultural industry — as well as urban and suburban areas — reduce their environmental impact on the Great Lakes, which account for 21 per cent of the planet’s fresh water, the article said.

So far, the team’s results have indicated that farmers may even be able to reuse the nutrients recovered from the wastewater on their operations.

Moving forward, this technology could allow farmers to participate in pollution credit programs, Moller said.

The research team, which also includes Dan Strawn, a soil scientist, and Martin Baker, a mechanical engineer, is one of ten semi-finalists in the George Barley Water Prize competition. This challenge encourages teams to develop “cost-effective technology to remove phosphorus from fresh water,” the article said.

Moller and his team are also included on the Association of University Technology Managers’ list of 25 Innovations that Change the World. has reached out to the Holland Marsh Growers’ Association for comment.


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