Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions’ Translational Health Chair appointed to the University of Alberta to study water safety in Alberta

Apr. 16, 2014

Nick Ashbolt, PhD
Nick Ashbolt, PhD

(Edmonton, Alberta)  April 16, 2014… Alberta has some of the best water and water safety controls in North America. Nicholas Ashbolt, PhD, has been recruited from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to Alberta to ensure our provincial leadership in water safety. Dr. Ashbolt has taken up an Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions’ (AIHS) Translational Health Chair in Water within the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. He also has an appointment to lead microbial risk assessment activities in environmental microbiology in Alberta Health Services’ Provincial Laboratory for Public Health (ProvLab).

“Alberta is the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce drinking water safety plans,” Says Dr. Ashbolt. To ensure Alberta maintains its high level of water standards, Dr. Ashbolt and his team will introduce better and more efficient ways of testing and managing our urban and rural water supplies. “We want to use microbial risk assessment to set general limits and identify specific targets for the various types of pathogens (disease causing organisms) in a community’s water supply. This will help operators know and better manage their water systems.” Dr. Ashbolt will also examine innovative ways in which water, energy, and nutrients can be recovered and used for agricultural purposes and where water can be reused in people’s homes.

“Water is our most valued global resource and is intrinsically tied to the health of populations. There is urgency in creating and using knowledge to manage our use and reuse of water for all citizens. Alberta is an ideal place for Dr. Ashbolt to work, share his expertise, and mentor others so that our province is a leading centre for best water management research and practice.” says Dr. Cy Frank, AIHS CEO. “We’re confident that his work will result in safer water for all Albertans.”

“We are pleased to have recruited Nicholas Ashbolt to the University of Alberta,” says Kue Young, MD, PhD, the Dean of the School of Public Health. “The financial backing of Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions makes this seven year commitment possible.  His arrival strengthens the University of Alberta Water Initiative, and his presence will elevate the area of water research and benefit not just Albertans, but people throughout North America.”

The AIHS Translational Health Chairs program provides opportunities to attract top researchers to Alberta. Focusing on priority research and innovation areas, these individuals translate research into real world solutions, moving what we know into what we do.




Dr. Ashbolt will apply his expertise in microbial risk assessment to three main areas:

1)    Expanding water reuse and beneficial uses of biosolids (nutrient-rich organic materials obtained from wastewater treatment)

2)    Applications and novel approaches to wastewater and biosolid reuse.

3)    Determining the vulnerability of drinking water supplies to waterborne parasites.

Prior to coming to the University of Alberta, Dr. Ashbolt was a key member of the European Commission: MICRORISK. This initiative was adopted by the World Health Organization to establish recreational, drinking water, and wastewater reuse guidelines.

Through the work that Dr. Ashbolt will conduct, the University of Alberta will be able to collaborate with the University of Calgary in a provincial waterborne disease reporting and surveillance system.

Dr. Ashbolt will receive approximately $4.2 million for the seven year research program.

Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions supports research and innovation activities to improve the health and wellbeing of Albertans and create, through innovation, health related social and economic benefits for Albertans. It provides leadership for Alberta’s health research and innovation enterprise by directing, coordinating, reviewing, funding and supporting research and innovation. For more information see:


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