Staff and faculty from the Global Institute for Water Security, including Howard Wheater (second from left).

Global Water Futures announces $16.2M funding for 11 projects across Canada

The University of Saskatchewan-led Global Water Futures (GWF) program has funded 11 initial research projects across Canada totaling nearly $16.2 million over the next three years to tackle some of Canada’s most pressing water-related challenges.

These include protecting prairie agricultural lands from drought and floods, mitigating algae blooms in lakes, developing new monitoring systems for Canadian watersheds using drones and satellites, using environmental DNA to assess ecosystem health and understanding the impact that changes to mountain snow packs and glaciers will have on drinking water.

“All 11 of these ambitious projects involve researchers from more than one institution working together in new ways to tackle some of the most difficult problems we face today,” said GWF Director Howard Wheater, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security and director of the U of S Global Institute for Water Security.

Four projects are led by the University of Saskatchewan, three by the University of Waterloo, two by McMaster University, one by Wilfrid Laurier University and one is jointly led by the University of Manitoba and University of Victoria.

In total, 106 researchers from 15 Canadian universities are involved in the 11 projects. They are collaborating with 125 partners including international institutions, government agencies, industry partners, non-governmental organizations and Indigenous communities. More than 250 highly qualified personnel will be hired for the projects over the next three years.

Wheater noted that the projects span a wide range of critically important topics related to water issues in cold regions of the world during a time of climate change. He said the research findings will impact all Canadians. 

“This critically important research will contribute significantly to risk management solutions, provide disaster warnings, and diagnose and predict with greater accuracy what can happen to freshwater in Canada,” he said. 

Canada is experiencing climate change at significant rates and this is affecting everything from melting permafrost, glaciers and snow packs, to increased algae blooms, increased floods and droughts in certain regions, as well as the potential for further disasters such as the recent floods in Ontario and Quebec, the Alberta floods of 2013, and the Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016.

These projects were all selected through an international peer-reviewed process. The $16.2-million investment in the projects has leveraged another $26.4 million in cash from universities and partners, as well as $114.8 million in in-kind contributions from partners. 

More information about the projects and GWF is available on the website.