Ontario is home to a vast quantity of water-related scientific knowledge produced by thousands of water researchers. More than 100 water-related research groups and institutes are based in Ontario, along with nearly 50 universities and colleges hosting water-related research, studies, and programs.
Researchers are involved in various issues related to the water sector, from effects of climate change on global water resources, watershed planning and management, sustainable conservation methods for remote communities, infrastructure maintenance and replacement, to tracking emerging contaminants that affect habitat and humans.
Ontario’s research organizations collaborate closely with university researchers, government agencies, municipalities, and the water industry in a “knowledge mobilization” process. Shared knowledge and research enables government decision-makers and business leaders to gain access to the most relevant work available to address their water challenges.
Here are but a few of the organizations involved in helping Ontario to be a productive environment for water sector research:
The Southern Ontario Water Consortium (SOWC) helps companies advance innovative water technologies and services by making key introductions between private companies and academic researchers to accelerate and commercialize innovative water technologies. The SOWC connects companies with relevant research expertise across a network of 10 post-secondary institutions and provides access to world-class demonstration facilities including pilot- and full-scale wastewater demonstration facilities, instrumented watersheds, and a data platform. SOWC also provides financial support for collaborative industry-led technology development projects through its Advancing Water Technologies program, which is funded by FedDev Ontario, and supports companies in gaining access to approvals for innovative technology demonstration.
The Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) has enabled many university-industry partnerships over the years and has worked with more than 65 industrial partners on various projects. Partners include both large and small entities, such as CH2M HILL, Imperial Oil, Golder Associates, Trojan Technologies, and Zenon Environmental Inc. OCE also collaborates with many non-private sector funding partners, such as Canadian Water Network, and many municipalities, including Guelph, London, and Waterloo.
Ryerson Urban Water (RUW) is a multi-disciplinary collective of experts whose aim is to be Canada’s preeminent institution on urban water issues through applied research, education, community outreach, and policy development. RUW’s intensive applied research mandate in the natural sciences, engineering, policy/regulatory, and socio-economic arenas, is coupled with a comprehensive education focus. The group’s research provides cost-effective solutions that support a healthy urban water cycle while promoting innovation in water education across societal boundaries.
The Walkerton Clean Water Centre (WCWC) plays a critical role in Ontario’s water sector as the leading centre for high-quality training, applied research, and technology demonstration. Full access to resources and expertise is offered to owners, operators, and operating authorities of Ontario’s drinking water systems, especially those serving small and remote communities, including First Nations. WCWC’s LEED-Gold certified building features a state-of-the-art technology demonstration facility that serves as a platform for hands-on training and practical research. The WCWC instructors has trained more than 50,000 operators and professionals in the drinking water industry.
The Canadian Water Network (CWN) at the University of Waterloo is a non-profit corporation driving Canada’s progress on four core national priorities: Moving to adaptive, resilient municipal water management, achieving economic success through environmental and public health protection, meeting domestic and global demand while protecting Canada’s competitive water advantage, and enabling sustainable management and safe drinking water. CWN plays the critical intermediary role of improving the connection between the research and those involved in managing water in the public and private sectors by bringing together key decision makers to determine shared water management needs across municipalities, industry, and governments from local to national. The network finds the right research partners to address those needs, ensuring that the right combinations of knowledge yield tangible results.
The Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment (CAWT) at Fleming College collaborates with several industry, government, and academic partners. CAWT conducts research in the areas of water and wastewater treatment science, and communicates results in reputed publications. The Centre especially does extensive research on phytotechnology, which uses an effective, low maintenance, and inexpensive form of water treatment to optimize the physical, chemical, and biological processes of natural wetland ecosystems.