AquaHacking Challenge 2019

Welcome to the AquaHacking Challenge 2019! We are so glad that you're here. If you're ready to register, click the "JOIN" button to the right. If you're ready to learn about the Water Issue - scroll down!

This page will be where you can connect with teammates, learn about the water issues (scroll down!), and find all of the workshop details (available once you register). Make sure to save this page as you will be coming back often to stay up-to-date with the program!

About AquaHacking Challenge 2019

Each year, the AquaHacking Challenge engages with rising gen hackers, engineers and marketers from various universities to create multidisciplinary teams and develop clean-tech engineering, web and mobile solutions to water issues affecting the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Watershed Basin. 

As the focus is demand-driven innovation, the water issues tackled are designed and submitted by organizations who also provide expert insight ot teams to better understand the issues as well as provide access to relevate data. AquaHacking Challenge founding sponsor IBM Canada has also provided Watson APIs, Cloud access and more to competing teams for the duration of the Challenge. The expected results are functional, marketable, and demand-driven solutions that have a real and measureable impact to solve pressing water issues. Many of the winning teams have continued on to become successful water-tech startups with their products in-market.

AquaHacking Water Issues

For the AquaHacking Challenge, each team will need to choose one of the below Water Issues to solve. Each of the Water Issues is supported by a team of experts representing organizations working at the forefront of these issues. The below information videos allow you to hear from the Water Issue Leaders who share about why the water issue is at a critical point of needing a solution. Watch the videos to gain a better understanding of what will be required in order to create a meaningful solution for the Water Issue. 

Once your team has chosen a Water Issue, you will be connected with the Water Issue Leaders who will support you throughout the development of your solution.

Water Issue: Floodproof Communities

Challenge Statement: How could we reduce climate-related damages and economic losses from flooding for individuals, communities, infrastructure and the environment in the Great Lakes and St Lawrence River Basin?

Description: Improving climate resilience in shoreline communities. Water damage is the obvious result of flooding, but there is also the risk of contamination as sewers and septic tanks overflow and garages or basements full of chemicals are flooded. The U.S. National Institute of Building Sciences reveals, in a report published in December 2017, that for every dollar invested in prevention, $6 in damage resulting from disasters is avoided.

Water Issue Leaders:

  • Scott McKay, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
  • Sarah Rang, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

Water Issue: Road Salt

Challenge Statement: How might we divert road salt from entering the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin?

Description: Excessive road salt application in the Great Lakes region has lead to chloride levels rising in rivers and smaller lakes, surpassing healthy levels year-round in freshwater ecosystems, and can have cascading effects on the upper food web.

Water Issue Leaders:

  • Anthony Merante, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada
  • Elizabeth Hendriks, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada

Resources & Mentors:

Water Issue: Microplastics

Challenge Statement: How might we develop an intervention to prevent plastics and microplastics from entering the waters of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin?

Description: Research now shows that the Great Lakes contain microplastic pollution, with the highest concentrations in heavily urbanized areas, like Toronto and Detroit. More than half of the waste released each year contains plastic materials. About 10,000 metric tons of plastic enters the Great Lakes every year, and another 8 million goes into the ocean. Sources of plastic debris to the Great Lakes include microplastic beads from consumer products, pellets from the plastic manufacturing industry, and waste from beach-goers, shipping, and fishing activities. Plastics are persistent in the environment and may have long-term adverse ecological and economic impacts, including the dispersal of persistent organic pollutants. As these pollutants enter water supplies and marine environments, they create profound problems for ecological and human health. 

Water Issue Leaders:

  • Gail Krantzberg, McMaster University
  • Scott McKay, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
  • Pedro A. Segura, University of Sherbrooke

Water Issue: Wipes

Challenge Statement: How might we develop a solution to prevent wipes from contaminating wastewater collection and treatment systems?

Description: Worldwide municipalities (the wastewater industry) have engaged with the wipes manufacturers and their trade associations, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA) and European Disposables and Nonwovens Association (EDANA) to develop a technical standard for defining what constitutes toilet flushability of wipes.  These popular consumer products are a costly impact and rapidly growing addition to the garbage stream found in municipal wastewater collection and treatment systems.  Our Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin is seeing increased evidence of people flushing wipes down toilets and the wipes have made it into the natural water environment.  

Water Issues Leader:

  • Barry Orr, Municipal Enforcement Sewer use Group (MESUG)

Resources & Mentors:

  • Dr. Darko Joksimovic
  • Jennifer Leno
  • Alex Mifflin
  • Tyler Mifflin
  • Tony Van Rossum
  • Robert Villee

Water Issue: Municipal Drinking Water & Public Fountains

Challenge Statement: How might we increase public trust and use of public water throughout the city of Montreal?

Description: The municipal tap water that is available to cities around the Great Lakes and St Lawrence basin is clean and high quality. Nevertheless, there is widespread distrust and lack of use of this publically available water. Single-use plastic water bottles are bought and disposed of en masse causing significant environmental pollution and financial costs that fall to municipalities. By increasing the public's trust in municipal tap water, and raising awareness about where to find public water fountains, we can effectively decrease the use of plastic water bottles. 

Water Issue Leaders:

  • Robin Leveille, City of Montreal
  • Sonja Behmel, APEL

Special Note: This information video outlines a potential solution (mapping application) that the City of Montreal and APEL have identified as a potentially viable product. Teams are welcome to build this idea or to come up with another idea that addresses the Challenge Statement. 


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