Manitoba

Recycled shower water eyed for ice rinks

Manitoba hockey players, figure skaters and curlers could soon be among the first in Canada to play on ice made from recycled shower water.

Manitoba hockey players, figure skaters and curlers could soon be among the first in Canada to play on ice made from recycled shower water.

The province is looking at a pilot project that would see one of Manitoba's largest arenas convert its shampoo and sweat-laced wastewater into ice skating rinks.

If the project is successful, the province would like to expand the concept to include all Manitoba ice skating — and even curling —rinks. "I think it's terrific," said Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick "If we can do this shower-water-to-rinks, there are curling rinks all over the province."

Curlers skeptical

While some curlers are skeptical about playing on ice made from shower water, the concept is being hailed by environmentalists as a way to make Canada's iconic games more energy efficient. John Bennett, executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, said recycling grey water to make ice rinks cuts greenhouse gas emissions and saves municipal taxpayers money.

Jacques Levesque, general manager of Winnipeg's Dakota Community Centre where the pilot project is taking place, said the centre's showers use about 450 litres of water every hour. 

With two indoor ice rinks and three outdoor winter rinks, Levesque said the centre spends up to $35,000 on water every year. "It's sad to see so much water just being poured out to waste," he said. "The water that is being thrown out is unbelievable ... It would be great to be able to recycle that water. Hopefully it will set a precedent for a lot of other hockey rinks."

No worse

For those worried about the quality of the ice, Levesque said he expects the water will be kept in a reservoir and filtered somewhat before being used to make the rinks. He said it can't be any worse than using melted snow-water, which is common practice at some arenas. "There is a lot of junk in that stuff," he said.

Curlers however appear a little more reticent about playing on recycled shower water. Ray Turnbull, curling champion and retired commentator for TSN, said curling ice is currently made from de-ionized water which ensures no chemicals end up in the ice.

Ice is everything

Otherwise, chemicals rise to the surface and can create "pebbles" in the ice, he said. "I don't think you'd have a chance with curling," Turnbull said. "Skating ice is 1,000 per cent different than curling ice. The ice is everything."