Waterloo to receive $15 million for Global Water Futures initiative

Friday, September 9, 2016

frozen lake

$78 million from the Government of Canada will position the country as a global hub for leading-edge, user-driven water science for the world’s cold regions. The University of Waterloo’s Water Institute will be a key partner on the University of Saskatchewan-led Global Water Futures initiative.

Cold regions are experiencing dramatic changes to regional climate and environmental conditions, bringing about more severe floods, longer drought periods and deterioration of water quality that are putting economies, communities and ecosystems at risk.

Financed by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), Global Water Futures is the largest university-led water research program ever funded worldwide. University of Waterloo researchers will partner with the University of Saskatchewan, joining collaborators from Wilfrid Laurier University, McMaster University and 14 other Canadian universities and colleges.

The seven-year initiative brings risk management, climate change, land use and water resource forecasting together to address water issues in an integrated way. Both researchers and end-users, such as northern indigenous communities, will receive new information and innovative decision making support tools to enable better, adaptive planning, and a knowledge platform to train the next generation of water leaders. New water security monitoring and predictive tools and techniques will enhance Canada’s international competitiveness.

Waterloo’s existing strengths in water research expected to enhance project

$15 million of the CFREF funding will be go toward the Waterloo-led portion of the Global Water Futures initiative. Waterloo professor and Canada Excellence Research Chair in Ecohydrology, Philippe Van Cappellen, will coordinate the Water Institute effort and lead the research program’s Water Quality theme that will focus on how humans can use water resources without adversely impacting aquatic ecosystems. This research will transform the way we diagnose aquatic ecosystem health in cold regions, provide early warning systems to protect drinking water and ecosystems, and inform adaptive water resource management practices.

"Most of the climate change impacts humans are experiencing are through changes in the water cycle,” said Van Cappellen. “Canada urgently needs a coordinated, research-driven approach to manage and sustain our vast freshwater resources – with support of CFREF we’re going to be able to adapt to the new climate normal."

In addition, Water Institute researchers will contribute their expertise in several other of Global Water Future’s theme areas, including Human-Water Systems, Water and Health and Decision Support Systems. With over 150 researchers from all six faculties, the Institute draws from the expertise of a broad range of water specialists.

"The Global Water Futures program will transform water management in Canada,” says George Dixon, Vice President of University Research at the University of Waterloo. “I am confident that the Water Institute, which serves as a catalyst for interdisciplinary approaches to addressing complex water security challenges, is poised to make a very significant contribution to this collaboration."

Read more about Global Water Futures

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