The rugged and majestic coastline of British Columbia stretches on for more than 25,000 kilometres, from its southernmost tip at the US border near Vancouver, far north to the stunning and wild expanse of the Yukon Territory.
Three-quarters of our vast province is covered with mountains (some up to 4,600 metres high), which shape the region’s extensive network of still and flowing waters: From long and powerful rivers to more than 2o,000 lakes and waterfalls that cascade down 500 metres.
We have many islands, the most sizeable of which—Vancouver Island, home of the province’s capital city Victoria—is half as big as the entire country of Ireland.
For these reasons and more, B.C. has a close-knit relationship with water—both as a source and way of life, and as something to be utilized and innovated for the good of the region.
For example, there is a Vancouver startup tackling the global challenge of water scarcity through development of a versatile monitoring system that not only empowers property managers to track water use but also serves as a predictive leak detection platform.
Founded in 2021 by Kerry Chin, Orca Water says its breakthrough modular technology utilizes ultrasonic sensing and machine learning capabilities to generate comprehensive insights into water consumption, down to individual fixtures and appliances, providing new levels of understanding and control over water usage.
Meanwhile, Barnacle Systems has developed “Rapid Deploy” devices to combat the rising environmental and navigational hazard of abandoned boats across British Columbia waters. There are nearly 3,000 abandoned or wrecked vessels in Canadian waters, with a majority in BC.
And VoltSafe, also based in BC, powers electric water vessels, solving the logistics of charging electric batteries on the water while establishing a “new standard for marine electrical safety.”
Victoria’s Pani created a cloud-based platform designed to elevate the efficiency of industrial and city-scale water and wastewater treatment plants using artificial intelligence, while Infinitii AI provides environmental monitoring to many of the largest water infrastructure utilities in the US and Canada, leveraging AI-driven predictive analytics.
Overall, B.C. knows water-tech intimately.
But how well do we know water-tech on the moon?
It is with great anticipation that we wait and see if regional firms or entrepreneurs will step up to the Aqualunar Challenge, which is offering up to $1 million for innovation in the very niche field of cosmic water purification.
Recently issued by The Canadian Space Agency in collaboration with Privy Council Office’s Impact Canada, the Aqualunar Challenge calls on Canadian innovators to develop technologies that could be used to remove contaminants found in Moon water.
In turn, these innovations could help advance current water purification processes on Earth, the CSA says.
“Water is essential to sustain life and is a critical resource for deep-space exploration,” a statement from the space agency reads.
To achieve NASA’s “ambitious” goal of establishing a long-term human presence on the Moon and later Mars, “removing contaminants from lunar water is necessary to support the production of food, oxygen, and rocket fuel,” the CSA reports.
“This new era of space exploration calls for development in many traditional fields of Canadian expertise, which opens up amazing opportunities for our innovators,” believes Francois-Philippe Champagne, who serves as Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry.
Canadian innovators have until April 8 to submit a concept and enter the three-stage competition. A grand prize winner will be selected in 2026.
“With initiatives like the Aqualunar Challenge, we are gearing up for humanity’s next step on the Moon and cementing Canada’s reputation as a valued partner in space while developing sustainable solutions for current challenges on Earth,” Champagne stated.
And in addition to water, the CSA has also expressed interest in fire—though not in space, just from it.