Request for Proposals

Letter of Intent for Pillars 1 and 2

Submission Deadline: June 16, 2017


The Strategic Management Committee (SMC) for the Global Water Futures (GWF) programme, funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), invites Letters of Intent (LOI) to develop transformational research projects directed towards Pillar 1 - Diagnosing and Predicting Change in Cold Regions and Pillar 2 - Developing Big Data and Decision Support Systems. Eligible GWF investigators can submit LOI up until June 16, 2017.

Proposed science, big data and decision support system projects should complement and show consistency with GWF core teams and strategies and should be in alignment with the vision of GWF:

  • To provide Canada with the information and tools needed to prepare for and manage water futures in the face of unprecedented environmental and societal change ensuring health and wellbeing
  • To provide world-leading water science for Cold Regions and to be a global partner of choice for developing user-focussed solutions to water security

The three-year projects will aim to put Canada at the forefront of water science and innovation.  Whilst any aspect of Pillars 1 and 2 can be the subject of an LOI, projects of particular interest to the SMC will be strategic to the needs of GWF.  Strong project LOI will include those that make the case that their objectives are not adequately covered by GWF Core Support activities and by Pillar 3 User-need Led Projects.  For instance the SMC identifies strategic research needs in the areas of:

  • Water and health
  • Social science and governance
  • Innovative sensors
  • Science in support of big data analytics and high end computing
  • Groundwater
  • Cold regions processes

Note that there will be a separate request for proposals focussing on First Nations water issues.

The successful LOIs will be invited to submit full proposals by September 2017. A proposal may be led by a full-time faculty member of one of the 4 partner institutions or any faculty member who was personally invited to be a participant in the GWF proposal (representing an additional 14 Canadian universities).


At least half the world’s population is dependent upon water from ‘cold regions’ where snow, ice and frozen soils drive water availability and quality. Cold regions are severely affected by climate change and human activity, resulting in dramatic rates of warming, changing water availability and unsustainable water use. Canada and much of the world are ill prepared for this unprecedented shift, which has already resulted in intensified floods and droughts, reduced water availability and degraded water quality, costing billions in economic loss and impacting the health of populations. Addressing how to protect communities against these extreme water threats and consequent health risks in the face of climate uncertainty and human-induced global changes is one of the world’s grand challenges.

Our response, through GWF, will transform the way communities, government, and industry prepare for and manage water-related risks in an era of unprecedented change.

GWF’s overarching goal is to deliver risk management solutions—informed by leading-edge water science and supported by innovative decision-making tools—to manage water futures in Canada and other cold regions where global warming is changing landscapes, ecosystems, and the water environment.


A budget of up to $5 million over 3 years is available for this call. Depending on the size of the team and project scope: smaller projects could request up to $200K per year and larger projects (consortia) could request up to $500K per year. The available funding is mostly for hiring highly qualified personnel and operating expenses with the expectation that major equipment purchases will be met from elsewhere. Please note that no overhead funding is allowed in the budget allocation. Integration of international components in the projects will be encouraged.

Letter of Intent Process

The following process will be followed by GWF to secure, assess, and approve project/network applications: 

  • Step 1: Release a request for proposal (RFP) document having working guidelines and quality criteria for Pillars 1 and 2 (Deadline: March 30)
  • Step2: Receive LOI (Deadline: June 16)
  • Step 4: SMC to review LOI with advice from International Science Advisory Panel
  • Step 5: If required, the SMC to identify similar or complementary projects/networks and combine teams
  • Step 6: Inform successful LOI and invite full proposals (Deadline: July 14, 2017)
  • Step 7: Full proposals due (Deadline: September 22, 2017)
  • Step 8: The full proposals will be provided to the International Science Advisory Panel (ISAP) and for international peer review for feedback and recommendations to the SMC. (Deadline: October 6, 2017)
  • Step 9: Funded projects will be informed (Deadline: October 20, 2017)

Project Management

Each successful project must provide a bi-annual progress report and its progress against proposed deliverables will be reviewed annually by the SMC and user groups panel. A critical evaluation of the funded projects/networks will be conducted at the end of year 3.

GWF Core Support

GWF will be providing core support teams for the programme as follows:

  • Computer Science Team – Human Computer Interface and Re-engineering Codes
  • Observatories and Data Management Team
  • Modelling Core Team

Interaction with and enhancement of these teams is desirable and some support is likely to be available from these teams for agreed collaboration with successful projects.  The full strategy documents for these teams should be consulted.

Letter of Intent Outline

The letter of intent should not exceed 10 pages (excluding CVs)

  • Project/Network Title
  • Names of PI and Co-PIs and contact information (as needed)
  • Names of Co-Is and their affiliations (as needed)
  • Summary (1/2 page)
  • Rationale (1 page)
  • Objective (both 3 years and 7 years plans) (1 page)
  • Science deliverables and Timelines (2 1/2 pages)
  • Alignment with the GWF Vision (1 page)
  • Budget (no justification required; include any leveraging opportunity) (1 page)
  • HQP Training (1 pages)
  • International Partnership and/or field work (1 page)
  • Request for GWF Core Support (1 page)
  • 2-Page CVs of each of the PIs and Co-PIs

Evaluation Criteria

Any person or group planning to submit an LOI should use the working guidelines for development of the LOIs, which are outlined as follows:

  1. Transformative – excellent science that transforms the approach to water problems (30%)
  2. Relevance to Pillar 1 and/or 2 and to GWF objectives (30%)
  3. Complements, enhances and/or uses Core GWF activities/facilities – instrumented river basins, modelling, big data (15%)
  4. Identifies a science or technical topic(s) that requires strategic investment by GWF due to lack of national capacity, insufficient core support from GWF or inability to adequately address the topic(s) in Pillar 3 proposals. (25%)

Document Format Requirements

  • Page size: 8.5x11 inches
  • Margins: no less than 3/4 inch on all sides
  • Font: Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri (no smaller than 12 pts)
  • Header: include the title of the application at the top of every page
  • All pages should be consecutively numbered

Submission Process

Please email your application package as one pdf file to Phani Adapa, Director of Operations, Global Water Futures at


Contact – GWF Secretariat

Phani Adapa, PhD, PEng
Director of Operations
Global Water Futures Programme
National Hydrology Research Centre
11 Innovation Blvd, Saskatoon, SK S7N 3H5
Phone: 306-966-2271