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Water quality concerns drive Shuswap entrepreneur to create Sewllkwe Book

Adams Lake resident creates app to give public access to water system data
Sewllkwe Book creator Trever Andrew at work as a water system operator with the Adams Lake Band. (Contributed)

Trever Andrew wants to empower people with knowledge about the resource they depend on most: water.

The entrepreneur and Adams Lake resident is the founder and creator of Sewllkwe Book (Sewllkwe means “water” in the Secwepemc language), a Cloud-based water and wastewater program that provides a digital record of a community’s water and wastewater systems. System operators input water/wastewater data into Sewllkwe Book, which instantly analyzes the results and creates a report identifying trends or urgent issues. The related app allows the public to follow results in real-time, giving unfettered access to a water system’s operations and any arising concerns.

Andrew was prompted to create the program following the May 2000 water crisis in Walkerton, Ont., where approximately 2,300 became ill and seven people died as a result of bacterial contamination of the municipal water supply.

“It just surprised me because we live in Canada that that would happen – I was curious to see if I could prevent that from every happening again,” said Andrew, a certified water and wastewater operator with the Adams Lake Band.

Andrew received the BC Water and Wastewater Association’s Victor M. Terry Award for excellence in operations in 2017 for his work with the band. Through beta testing of Sewllkewe Book, they were able to identify and remedy issues around water usage, reducing it by 20 million litres.

“With the Adams Lake Band, they were very welcoming for us to come into the houses and fix all the water fixtures…, ” said Andrew. “We had no idea we were going to be able to prove in one year that it would make a difference and we were quite shocked by the data that was fed back to us by the program, and it showed that we got it from 67 million down to 47 million litres of water.”

Andrew’s profession is also a passion; he cares deeply about water quality and making related data available to the public. For Andrew, Shuswap Lake’s recent, lingering algae bloom is cause for concern and a case where increasing public knowledge has helped lead to needed actions.

Read more:Letter: Human activity around Shuswap Lake cause of increasing algae blooms

Read more: Shuswap Lake Algae bloom the result of “perfect storm” of factors

“Usually, what helps the government move a little bit faster in responding to these kinds of crises like we’re having with Big Shuswap Lake is when people have that data,” he said.

Such transparency has not been an easy sale, admits Andrew, who conferred with experts early on in the project to see if it was “worth the headache” of pursuing. He was told yes, and he maintains Sewllkewe Book fills a need in Canada for networking and communication around our water systems.

“It doesn’t matter what culture you are from or what walk of life, we’re all invested in this area and we all have a responsibility to the most amazing resource that keeps us going every day,” said Andrew. “Without it, we won’t exist.”

How Sewllkwe Book works

Sewllkwe Book is a cellular phone-based app which allows water operators to collect and monitor water and wastewater quality data and input the data into a cellular phone right from the collection site in the field. Sewllkwe Book instantly analyzes the results, creating a report identifying trends or urgent issues.

• As soon as a worker takes a water sample and enters it into the Sewllkwe Book app, Sewllkwe Book analyzes the data and generates instant reports or alerts. Real time trend reports alert operators to identify issues.

• A preventive maintenance schedule reports on trends in the data identifying where water quality may be deteriorating or where excessive water treatment is occurring.

• It can isolate problem areas within the water system so the operator knows where the issues are and where scarce resources should be allocated first to have the greatest positive impact.

With files from Kamloops This Week.

Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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