At the University of Saskatchewan Global Institute for Water Security, sustainable use of the world’s water resources and protection against natural hazards such as flood and drought are key priorities.
Officially launched in March 2011, the Global Institute for Water Security builds upon leading expertise and capacity in water research at the U of S. Over 70 faculty and government scientists and 50 students and post-doctoral fellows are working in interdisciplinary teams to understand how climate change, land management practices, and development of natural resources are affecting our water environment, and develop the improved modelling tools needed to sustainably manage water. The institute combines expertise in natural sciences, engineering and the social sciences, recognising that people and their activities are of critical importance for water science and management.
While the institute’s work addresses water issues world-wide, an important focus is on Western Canada. The institute is developing the Saskatchewan River Basin as a world-class observatory with state-of-the-art monitoring of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Boreal Forest and Prairies. This will improve the ability to predict river flows, and improve understanding of how water quality and river basin ecosystems respond to climate change. Through its socio-hydrology research, the institute goes beyond traditional water resources management to integrate humans and their activities into water science, and ensure that water decision-making incorporates a range of values and perspectives about the meaning, value and use of water. Our researchers are holding workshops throughout the river basin to talk to those engaged in the management of water resources, understand their concerns and what scientific tools are needed to foster water security on the prairies and beyond.
The institute is co-located with Environment Canada’s National Hydrology Research Centre at Innovation Place and funded through the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security (CERC), a $30-million, joint federal-provincial-university commitment over seven years. Led by Dr. Howard Wheater, one of the world’s foremost hydrologists, teams at the institute are developing the modelling tools, techniques and policies to sustainably manage the world’s freshwater resources.
To undertake world-class research that enables and enhances water security – “sustainable use and protection of water resources, the safeguarding of access to water functions and services for humans and the environment, and protection against water-related hazards (flood and drought).”
- Create a focus and platform for interdisciplinary collaboration that recognizes the societal dimensions of water security, human impacts on the environment, and the linkages and feedbacks between atmosphere, land and water systems. This requires new integration of the relevant spectrum of natural, health and social sciences, public policy and engineering;
- Develop the knowledge, science and technologies needed to support integrated water quantity and quality management in the face of uncertain climate and water resource futures, and address local, regional and global water security agendas;
- Develop partnerships with key stakeholders to translate science into policy and management support to meet water security challenges, including interactions among water, food, energy and ecosystem services (i.e., benefits to human welfare), climate change adaptation and mitigation challenges, and the human health agenda;
- Provide tools, technologies, and computer models for application to key globally significant water security issues, with international application; and,
- Create a unique opportunity for governments, industry and universities to invest in and collaborate on one of our most pressing global issues.