Knowledge Translation Workshops for Small Water Systems in Canada

Knowledge Translation Workshops for Small Water Systems in Canada

Principal Investigator - Edward McBean, Professor, University of Guelph, 2011 - 2012

Knowledge Translation Workshops for Small Water Systems in Canada


Due to a number of challenges associated with water treatment in small and remote systems there is a risk of waterborne disease outbreaks in communities which use these systems. These challenges include a lack of information and training relevant to small systems, a lack of information communicated to small systems operators about scientific advancements, and a lack of examples of successes and failures in small systems.

Little has been done to combat these challenges, thus, the objectives of this project were to: (1) learn what information and training small system operators need, (2) hear examples of past experiences, and (3) share information about water treatment systems for small communities.

This project, led by Dr. Ed McBean, involved three workshops and the development of a board that focused on sharing information and creating a dialogue around the challenges and needs of small water systems in order to inform water treatment.


Three workshops were held over the course of this project. The first workshop was conducted with the operators of small and remote systems and focused on their experiences, their daily challenges, and information needed to overcome these challenges. The second workshop was conducted with members of provincial and territorial departments, who were asked to discuss the questions and information needs raised by small systems operators, with a focus on monitoring, communications strategies and policy development and implementation implications. The final workshop was a webinar conducted with both small systems operators and environmental health officers, following up on the previous workshops by discussing the results of both and sharing information and tools for water risk assessment.

Finally, an online forum, or white board, was established to communicate the results of the workshops more broadly and encourage discussion.


  • Hosting of workshops, webcast and development of associated documents
  • The project team developed documents summarizing the results of the first two workshops. These documents, as well as a recording of the final webcast, were shared on a website and online forum in order to make sure that this information was widely accessible.
  • Additionally, papers summarizing the results of this project were presented at professional meetings in order to encourage additional dissemination of the project findings.


  • The workshops, webcast and associated documents helped to promote a greater understanding of the challenges associated with small water supply systems, and helped to promote dialogue around these challenges with both small systems operators and policymakers in provincial and territorial governments.
  • Not only did the workshops help with an increased understanding and dialogue around the challenges for small water systems, but it also helped experts to translate knowledge to small systems operators to inform their water treatment processes.

Research Team

  • Edward McBean, Professor, University of Guelph
  • Steve Hrudey, Professor, University of Alberta
  • Peter Huck, Professor, University of Waterloo
  • Khosrow Farahbakhsh, Assistant Professor, University of Guelph
  • Victoria Edge, Senior Epidemiologist, Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Jeff Wilson, Professor, University of Guelph


  • Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation
  • Walkerton Clean Water Centre
  • AquaSanitas Centre at the University of Guelph
  • Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Conestoga Rovers & Associates

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