U of S water institute marks second anniversary with progress update on World Water Day
From U of S News Releases
Saskatoon — From the effects of urban and agricultural runoff on wetlands, rivers and lakes and the state of the mountain and prairie snowpack that feeds them, to the health of forest ecosystems and the Saskatchewan River delta, the Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS) at the University of Saskatchewan is creating knowledge to help manage critical freshwater resources.
“The institute has a lot to celebrate,” said Howard Wheater, director of the GIWS and Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Water Security.
March 22 marks the two-year anniversary of the institute as well as World Water Day, a UN initiative to promote sustainable management of the world’s freshwater supply. Wheater will be delivering a special lecture to mark the occasion at 4 pm in Convocation Hall. A paper and poster session featuring young researchers will run from 12:45 pm in room 175 of the Physics building, where Wheater will also bring greetings.
“Membership and interest in the institute continues to grow,” Wheater said. “We have recruited some of the best and brightest faculty, students and post-doctoral fellows to our interdisciplinary research teams working on critical water issues for western Canada and the rest of the world.”
One of those teams is working at Lake Diefenbaker, the province’s most important water reserve, measuring nutrient loading with the potential to cause toxic algae blooms similar to those found in Lake Winnipeg. Other teams are working to understand ecosystem sensitivity to climate change in the boreal forest. In the Rocky Mountains, researchers are developing new technologies to measure and assess snowpack to predict spring melt – a critical source of water that feeds communities across the Prairies through the Saskatchewan River system.
“The Saskatchewan River Basin is a critical water source for more than three million inhabitants in western Canada,” Wheater said. “We are working to develop the new tools needed for our communities to plan sustainable water futures.”
The GIWS Saskatchewan River Basin project, (SaskRB), has been recognized by the World Climate Research Programme’s Global Energy and Water Exchanges initiative as a Regional Hydroclimate Project, the only one of its kind in North America. SaskRB aims to improve water management within the basin by developing new tools to help address flood and drought risk, as well as monitoring the effects of land use, agricultural practices, water quality assessments and climate change impacts. Policy choices and governance will also be examined to help provide insights and community awareness to improve water management within the basin.
“The SaskRB project will use monitoring data from ground and satellite observations, as well as existing research sites, to understand and manage uncertain water futures,” Wheater said.
“Water security is a defining issue of our time and is an essential component of the environment, social wellbeing and our economic future,” said Karen Chad, U of S vice-president research. “The University of Saskatchewan recognizes water security as a signature research area with potential to address this universal issue and ultimately benefit society.
“Through collaborative, interdisciplinary research and partnerships, the Global Institute for Water Security is developing new solutions to issues related to water quality and quantity.”
The Global Institute for Water Security is co-located with Environment Canada’s National Hydrology Research Centre at Innovation Place and is funded through the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Water Security, a $30-million, joint federal-provincial-university commitment over seven years. The institute builds upon leading expertise and capacity in water research at the U of S by developing the modelling tools, techniques and policies to sustainably manage the world’s freshwater resources. Faculty, government scientists, students and post-doctoral fellows work in interdisciplinary teams to understand how climate change, land management practices and natural resource development affects our water environment.
-30-For more information, contact:
Global Institute for Water Security and School of Environment and Sustainability