University of Alberta’s new water research centre to focus on collaboration

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EPCOR has provided $1.4 million in seed funding to create a new water research centre at the University of Alberta’s (U of A) Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The water research centre will tackle a wide range of global water challenges across various disciplines, including sociology, rural economy, and Indigenous communities, says U of A centre director Mohamed Gamal El-Din.

“It’s not just about engineering and science,” announced Gamal El-Din in a statement.

Researchers in the Faculty of Engineering hope to collaborate with colleagues in the U of A’s College of Natural and Applied Sciences as well as in the health and social sciences to provide “integrated solutions to critical water-related problems,” he says.

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Gamal El-Din says the centre will draw on expertise across faculties to examine problems of water supply, demand, treatment, reuse and infrastructure that will build on decades of world-leading water research at the university, which boasts one of the largest hydraulic modelling facilities in Canada.

“This could put us on the national and international map, highlighting the research we’ve been doing for years and putting us in contact with other centres we might end up collaborating with,” added Gamal El-Din. 

The research centre will include a wide range of collaborators in the water industry, government ministries, utilities, agriculture, and municipalities.

The centre’s associate director, Evan Davies, says the plan is to train students and postdoctoral fellows in water issues, with an emphasis on learning a more collaborative way of doing research. 

Davies adds that researchers will look at how extreme droughts and flooding driven by climate change continue to affect water resources and communities.

“It really is supposed to be what is sometimes called a one-water approach to a very large and complicated interconnected system,” Davies said in a statement. “We’re trying to cover the entire water cycle.” 

Davies said the hydrological cycle includes rainfall, infiltration into soil, runoff into rivers, groundwater, as well as how water is used in society in municipal, industrial, commercial and agricultural contexts.  

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