WINNIPEG — 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 the Winnipeg arena where Stanley Cup champion Jonathan Toews played hockey as a child convert its shampoo and sweat-laced waste water into ice for five of its 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. Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick said Manitoba is the first province to look at recycling so-called grey water this way.
“I think it’s terrific,” she said. “If we can do this shower-water-to-rinks, there are curling rinks all over the province. There are certainly skating rinks all over the province. Let’s put it out as hopefully being a success and work with local communities.”
The province has called for proposals for a feasibility study which should be completed in the fall.
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.
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.”
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. John Bennett, executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, said recycling grey water to make ice rinks is an innovative idea which benefits everyone.
It cuts greenhouse gas emissions and saves municipal taxpayers money by reducing the amount of water that needs to be purified, he said. It also means less pollution gets into the country’s lakes and rivers, Bennett added.
There is no reason that ice rinks need to be made from the highest standard of drinking water in the land, he said.
“I’m pretty sure there isn’t a health problem as a result of this,” Bennett said. “I think it’s a very good idea and a way to make Canada’s national game more energy efficient.”