OTTAWA, ON, Canada, March 22, 2010 -- Canada's Environment Minister, Jim Prentice in partnership with Western Economic Diversification, today announced the Government of Canada's investment in water quality research at the Universities of Lethbridge and Saskatchewan.
"The international theme for World Water Day 2010 focuses on the importance of water quality. Here at home, the Government of Canada also sees water quality as a critical issue," said Minister Prentice. "By partnering with these universities on world class science, we are working to preserve Canada's water quality for today and future generations."
Today's investment totals $3.75 million and will go towards research projects that will ultimately assist organizations in making environmentally-responsible decisions aimed at preserving water quality. Environment Canada will provide more than $1.5 million of in-kind support and Western Economic Diversification will provide $2.25 million.
"The Government of Canada is working to support innovative and knowledge-based research to find new products, technologies or services that address environmental sustainability issues such as water quality and water quantity," said Western Economic Diversification Minister Yelich. "Through investments in technology commercialization, we are preparing our economy for future growth and long-term prosperity."
"Access to and sharing of water and land use information and knowledge remains one of the most significant challenges to the development of responsible management policies and plans," said University of Lethbridge President and Vice-chancellor Dr. Bill Cade. "The Water and Environmental Sciences Hub will be used by governments, industry, academia and the public to make more-informed decisions regarding water and will create a better understanding of this resource."
"This collaborative project, which draws on outstanding research talent from our new School of Environment and Sustainability, the Saskatchewan Research Council, and Environment Canada, will not only have practical application for environmentally sound policy decisions around location of power plants, but will strengthen Canada's competitive edge as a global leader in water resource technology, training and innovation," said Karen Chad, University of Saskatchewan Vice-President of Research.
The projects complement Environment Canada's commitment to the Global Environment Monitoring System Water Programme (GEMS/Water) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), an international water science program that develops and maintains a global freshwater quality information system for use by all United Nations members. The program received additional federal funding last year.
In Alberta, the University of Lethbridge will lead the establishment of the Water Resource Technology Initiative (WRTI), a group that will initially develop the Water Hub, an interactive web-based platform that will be a repository for water data, mapping and imagery, and environmental science data. Information from the Water Hub will be available to help organizations develop water resource technologies.
At the University of Saskatchewan, researchers will develop software that can be used as a decision-support tool to help energy developers make environmentally-responsible decisions on power plant locations by determining the impact of power plants or other power-generating technologies on water quantity and quality in the area. Once developed, the software will be marketed to utility companies, power generation equipment suppliers and governments.
For more information and to view a backgrounder on this announcement, please visit www.ec.gc.ca.