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Faculty of Science
Federal investment supports Laurier’s leading-edge water research
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The Federal Economic Development Agency announced an investment of $19.5 million today to support the Southern Ontario Water Consortium, a unique partnership in which Laurier researchers play a significant role.
The consortium is comprised of universities, private-sector companies, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations. Its aim is to understand what happens to freshwater systems under pressure from urban environments, and how to remedy the potential problems. The research will include the development, testing and demonstration of new water technologies and services, primarily along the Grand River and adjacent watersheds.
“It will be a superlab for research into new technology to treat water and wastewater, one of the first of its kind anywhere,” Kitchener-Waterloo MP Peter Braid said of the consortium during an announcement event at the University of Waterloo. “It will strengthen this region’s position as a world leader in water-treatment technologies, and give Ontario companies an opportunity to market new products around the globe, creating high-quality jobs here at home.”
Through the Southern Ontario Water Consortium, universities, private-sector companies, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations will work together to develop, test and pilot market-driven water technologies that are in high demand both regionally and around the world.
Specific research projects conducted by Laurier faculty for the consortium include:
- Effects of Urbanization on Water Integrity. Principal researchers: Mike English and Rich Petrone.
- Wastewater and Water Re-use/Assessing Ecological Impacts in the Watershed. Principal researchers: Deborah MacLatchy and Jim McGeer.
- Safe Drinking Water/Pathogen Analyses. Principal researcher Robin Slawson.
“The effects of pollution on wildlife, especially fish species, along with groundwater and remediation, are long-standing areas of research specialization in the Waterloo region,” said Abby Goodrum, Laurier’s vice-president: research. “This announcement highlights the critical role that Laurier, and the Waterloo region, are playing in environmental research in Canada.”
Laurier will host a field staging facility for the project, which includes wet-lab, work and storage space for preparing for and returning from fieldwork on the Grand River. The staging facility will also house a watershed hydrometeorology calibration lab for calibrating hydrology equipment for use in the field.
In addition, some of the funding will help with the purchase of mobile ecotoxicology laboratory trailers for use in the field. The trailers will greatly increase the accessibility and capacity of researchers to study the impacts of wastewaters and specific contaminants on animal and plant life in the watershed.
Overall, Southern Ontario Water Consortium will help to advance water-related technologies associated with the following key areas:
- Watershed management: to better handle groundwater and all forms of run-off into the watershed, reducing threats to water purity and usage
- Drinking water and wastewater treatment: to enable more effective use and reuse
- Ecotoxicology: to detect new and emerging contaminants in the water supply
- Analytical technologies: to develop sensors, data collection, analysis, processing, management and dissemination of water-related research.
IBM Canada Limited is the major private sector partner in the Southern Ontario Water Consortium project, providing a contribution valued at more than $20 million to establish the electronic data system that allows for the real-time streaming, exchange and archiving of data among users.
About the Southern Ontario Water Consortium
The Southern Ontario Water Consortium is a partnership between eight private sector companies, six participating universities (Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, McMaster University, the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario), and the Toronto Region Research Alliance. Additional partners include Ryerson University, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, more than 60 companies and a number of municipalities throughout southern Ontario. A board of directors for the consortium oversees the building and testing of the system and its ongoing operations, which allow southern Ontario water-related technology companies to test their innovations on a watershed-level platform.