UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into a CIRS style Solar Aquatic System at the UBC Farm Chow, Kevin; Fong, Andrew; Wong, Ka Fai (Philip)


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impacts of installing a Solar Aquatic System for water treatment similar to the one in use at the UBC Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability. The system should purify water, making it suitable for irrigation, fertigation, aquaculture, and other purposes (not for drinking). We analyzed economic, environmental, and social factors to determine whether the construction of such a system would be in the best interest of the UBC Farm and UBC as a whole. We found that the SAS was a good solution when taking into account all economic factors. Although the short-term cost of capital investment and operation costs were high, the fact that the SAS could be expanded to filter a higher capacity as the population of the south campus increases in the future was one of the determining factors when determining the economics involved. We also found that it met the environmental requirements. The Fecal coliforms were reduced to less than 200 colonies/100mL, estrogen and endocrine disruptor levels were reduced by between 93-95%, nitrogen levels and phosphorus levels are reduced by 98.7% and 97% respectively, and heavy metals were found to be reduced to acceptable levels by being absorbed by certain kinds of plants. The remaining pollutant levels in the effluent of the system were low enough that it could be used for irrigation, fertigation, aquaculture, and other agricultural purposes, but not for human consumption, as the water does not meet the drinking water standards. The SAS system is good from a social point of view because it has a positive effect on education. It improves students’ learning attitude and provides a better environment for students to learn. It also helps UBC to be agent of change, and as a leader of green in Canada. However, the construction may disturb people who are living near that area, and people are afraid of buying the crops that are irrigated by the treated wastewater. Overall, we recommend the installation of a CIRS style SAS system at the new UBC Farm building due to these benefits. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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