U of L pegged as Water Hub

World Water Day (Mar. 22) served as the perfect occasion for Assistant Vice-President (Research) Dr. Lesley Brown to make a major announcement. Sharing a stage with federal environment minister Jim Prentice, they announced the creation of the Water and Environmental Science's Water Hub at the University of Lethbridge.

The Hub, which will be developed over the next two years, will serve as a data repository and will be an authoritative public source of information, providing tools to analyze water and environmental data. This data 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 by these stakeholders.

Prentice, who announced $1.5 million in funding to support the project, explains that the government needs reliable water data to make better decisions concerning water.

"To make good decisions, governments in Canada need good information – and it's not as though you can just turn on a tap to get it. We need knowledge generated by scientists and researchers who can provide the evidence for informed decisions about freshwater use," says Prentice.

In addition to announcing the investment at the U of L, Prentice also announced $750,000 for the University of Saskatchewan to develop software that can be used as a tool to help energy developers make environmentally responsible decisions on power plant locations by determining impact on water quantity and quality in the area.

The funding announced for the Universities of Lethbridge and Saskatchewan was made in tandem with the Government of Canada's $2.5 million investment in the Global GEMS/Water – the Global Environment Monitoring System Water Program run through the United Nations Environment Programme.

The University of Lethbridge Water Hub will increase the impact of Canada's contribution to the UN's Global Environmental Monitoring System by hosting large data sets supporting the international exchange of information. Further, the web-based tools developed in the Hub will allow for more informed decisions to be made internationally.

Brown points out that this announcement affirms the international impact of the University of Lethbridge's renowned water program.

"While the unique issues in southern Alberta influenced the genesis of the University of Lethbridge's water research focus, we are poised to make a difference internationally. This announcement is an example of this fact," she says.

Richard Westlund is the University's director of government relations