Researchers focus on new water challenges

Canada’s farmers have a love-hate relationship with water.

They pray for it when there’s not enough and they curse it when there’s too much.

But regardless of whether it’s too scarce or too abundant, every farmer knows he can’t live without it.

That’s one of the reasons why the University of Saskatchewan — located in the heart of Canada’s driest province — has taken a lead role in studying the future of Canada’s fresh-water resources.

Global Water Futures is a seven-year research program established by the Global Institute for Water Security at the U of S.

The program, established in 2016, has 33 approved research projects, including 21 new projects that were announced this month.

The cost to complete approved GWF projects is estimated at $170 million, with funding provided through a Canada First Research Excellence Fund grant.

“With the hydrology of Canada and all cold regions changing dramatically due to climate change … (GWF) projects will help us understand, diagnose and predict change, and develop new tools … to support water-related decision making,” said John Pomeroy, director of GWF and professor of hydrology at the U of S.

“The outcomes of this … new science will include a better understanding of snow and rain storms, floods and droughts, as well as how to better measure and manage the quality of source waters.”

According to Pomeroy, Canada’s water resources and weather patterns are changing. With those changes come new challenges and opportunities.

Research is key to managing through turbulent times to improve our understanding of future water security issues, such as the depletion of Canada’s alpine glaciers, the thaw of northern permafrost, and fluctuating water levels in the country’s lakes and river systems.

Climate change, combined with new land management techniques, has already resulted in more droughts and floods, Pomeroy added.

“We have entered the great thaw due to rapid climate change, and with economic growth and changing ways in which we use the land, we now have more damaging droughts, fires, floods, algal blooms, and water quality advisories than in the past …,” he said.

There are also emerging opportunities for food and energy production through enlightened water management, he added.

All told, GWF projects conducted over the next three years are expected to provide training and employment for 450 researchers and scientists based at 15 universities across the country.

A list of recently approved GWF projects can be viewed online at

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