Facilities and Tools
Water Security: Stewardship of the World’s Freshwater Resources is a U of S signature area where we aim to be a leader in Canada and among the best in the world. Major investments have been made by the university and by government and industry partners to enhance infrastructure for research and training in aquatic sciences. As a result, the U of S is home to several state-of-the-art research facilities and provides a wealth of resources and tools for water research.
The Global Institute for Water Security collaborates with faculty and researchers working in the following facilities at the U of S and at research sites across western Canada.
The U of S is home to the largest university-based Toxicology Centre in Canada, a leading academic research and training centre in the area of aquatic and environmental toxicology. The centre provides broad-based expertise from the molecular to the ecosystem level, with partners from around the globe. It focuses on investigating the effects of water pollution on ecosystem and human health with an aim towards sustainability and stronger environmental stewardship.
The Aquatic Toxicology Research Facility, the only facility of its type in Canada and one of only a few in the world, is a highly sophisticated laboratory for aquatic toxicology research. The 7,100 sq-ft laboratory at the Toxicology Centre was specifically designed to provide areas with different water qualities and temperatures to perform both static and dynamic toxicological experiments with algae, crustaceans, insects, clams, amphibians or fish. In-house research facilities include five walk-in controlled-environment chambers and an analytical laboratory for water quality analysis.
- The U of S Centre for Hydrology addresses Saskatchewan's water sustainability problems and provides national leadership in hydrological research and training. The centre includes unique facilities with state-of-the-art equipment for stable isotope analysis, strong expertise in water and wastewater treatment, efficacy of constructed wetlands, mine reclamation and site remediation, water balance modelling, and hydrogeochemistry. The centre has six labs: Cryospheric Environmental Lab (an experimental cold room for cryospheric simulation); Cool Sample Lab; Hydrological Modelling Lab (computer modelling with PC and Unix); Hydrological Instrumentation Lab; Hydrological Sampling Lab; and Ecohydrology Lab (natural water chemistry). For a complete listing of Centre for Hydrology led projects and initiatives, click here.
- The Saskatchewan Isotope Laboratory in the department of geological sciences has facilities for the analysis of a wide range of stable and radiogenic isotopes for use in environmental, palaeoclimate and geological investigations.
- The U of S department of civil and geological engineering has a number of laboratory facilities including:
- Environmental engineering and water treatment;
- Structural and materials testing;
- Hydraulics and river engineering; and
- Soil mechanics and rock mechanics.
- The Canadian Light Source, Canada’s only synchrotron, provides opportunities for water research and is located on the U of S campus. This tool can be used to probe matter and analyze a host of physical, chemical, geological, and biological processes.
As part of an international team, U of S Canada Research Chair’s Ingrid Pickering and Graham George are using synchrotron technology to research the anecdotal properties of selenium when combined with arsenic. Arsenic in drinking water in Bangladesh and parts of India is poisoning upwards of 35 million people. Through a clinical trial conducted in Bangladesh, Pickering and Graham’s studies have demonstrated that an arsenic-selinium detoxification molecule is formed in blood and excreted. Selenium supplementation may be a possible arsenic poisoning treatment for Bangladeshis, and has the potential to improve the health of millions.
- The RJF Smith Center for Aquatic Ecology in the Department of Biology is a 450 sq. meter aquatic research facility with 12 artificial ponds and a 70 sq. meter wet lab.
- U of S interdisciplinary schools of environment and sustainability, public policy, and public health are training graduate students to examine environmental, policy and health challenges by incorporating a variety of disciplines and thinking ‘outside the box’ to solve complex societal issues.
The Cold Regions Hydrological Model
The Cold Regions Hydrological Model (CRHM) has been developed by the Centre for Hydrology to help predict snowpack, soil moisture, wetland and lake levels, and streamflow over Canadian watersheds. The model has advanced components that describe aspects of the water cycle that are particularly relevant to western and northern Canada and other cold regions where snowmelt is an important source of freshwater.
Some of the activities CRHM is used for include:
- Designing the rehabilitation of lead zinc mines in the Yukon
- Predicting pine beetle impacts on water yield from Rocky Mountain forests
- Estimating the impact of advancing tundra shrubs on streamflow in the Arctic
- Estimating the impact of wetland drainage on runoff in the Assiniboine River basin
- Analysing Prairie drought impact
- Evaluating the impacts of agricultural land use on streamflow and recharge of prairie wetlands
CRHM is currently being evaluated for flood and drought forecasting and water supply prediction for hydroelectricity generation by a number of agencies in Western Canada and by the U.S. government.