water splash in a glass

Fort McMurray is a small town in Canada caught in the grip of a natural disaster – a large wildfire burning southwest of the city. More than 100,000 residents of the city and the surrounding area were evacuated. As fire swept towards the city the largest wildfire evacuation in Canadian history was underway.

In the aftermath of events in Fort McMurray an urgent email from Mark Kitching, our Regional Sales Manager for Malvern Instruments Canada was received.

How quickly can we get a Zeta WT unit out to Canada? – This is a disaster recovery situation after a major forest fire event you may have heard of.”

Why the Zetasizer WT? The WT is a fully automated online sensor for continuous zeta potential monitoring that enables the proactive, precise and cost-efficient control of charge neutralization in the water treatment process and reduces vulnerability to sharp changes in incoming water quality. Plant stability is less easily maintained in the face of storms, flooding, heavy rain and algae bloom, as well as in response to seasonal events such as snow melt and leaf fall, and now unfortunately fire ash.


The city of Calgary Red Deer plant already uses the Zetasizer WT for its main production and the value of this system has been demonstrated during the disaster. The high fire ash content polluting the surrounding water has caused high alkalinity and unstable chemical conditions which the Zetasizer WT can monitor, then the plant operator takes the most appropriate action to adjust the chemical dosage. Unfortunately the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo treatment plant did not have automated coagulation control and were finding it difficult to stabilise their process hence the urgent request for a Zetasizer WT.

The team quickly agreed to send out the only system we had available at Malvern at the time and felt by doing so we were able to make some contribution to the recovery efforts.

Marks Reply was heart warming.


First off thanks to all for the efforts being made to help the people of Fort McMurray recover from this devastating wild fire and help get the water treatment plant prepared for the returning residents!”

The system is on its way and as of Sunday the 22nd May is in Northern Alberta and on its way to Fort McMurray. We hope that water quality can be restored as quickly as possible and that evacuated residents will be able to return home.