BWRC and Leaders Virtual Seminar Series – Sarah Jane Payne

Sophie Felleiter

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Manganese (Mn) was previously believed to be an innocuous nuisance causing laundry staining. However, recent epidemiological evidence shown an association between Mn exposure through drinking water and intellectual impairment in children. Health Canada’s new Guideline for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, published in 2019, renders manganese an emerging contaminant and a new challenge for both regulators and drinking water utilities. Mn is naturally occurring in both ground and surface water, and Mn can be removed at the water treatment plant. However, trace-level Mn present in the effluent can accumulate and form significant reservoirs on distribution pipe surfaces. Mn can be subsequently released from these reservoirs through hydraulic, chemical or biological disturbances. Predicting and monitoring Mn release is challenging, as events are difficult to capture through the conventional sampling and monitoring paradigm as Mn release can be sporadic, localized and colourless. Current best management practices involve distribution system vulnerability assessment and strategic cleaning practices. Current analytical methods are limited. Elemental analysis and metal detection have been traditionally analyzed using bench top instruments (e.g. ICPMS). While these instruments are universally applicable to different environmental contaminants (e.g. Mn) and highly sensitive, the cost and size of these prevent them from being portable, inline, and/or real-time.

The question utilities face – is how can you effectively manage a contaminant that you can not readily monitor?  In this presentation, attendees will learn about manganese management challenges in drinking water distribution systems as well as new electrochemical techniques being developed and adapted for real-time manganese monitoring.



Dr. Sarah Jane Payne is an assistant professor in Civil Engineering at Queen’s University. She is a professional engineer with a BASc.  from the University of Waterloo and an MASc. and PhD from Dalhousie University. Prior to her arrival at Queen’s University, Dr. Payne worked as an engineer in the federal public service (2014-2019), at both Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada in various water, wastewater, and environmental policy and regulatory roles. Dr. Payne is currently building a drinking water research program at Queen’s University, which will explore the interactions and interplay of water quality, disinfectants, pipe materials, inorganic particles, and the drinking water microbiome.

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