Prof. Corinne Schuster-Wallace, executive director of USask's Global Institute for Water Security (credit: submitted)

USask research making a splash on World Water Day

SASKATOON -- The University of Saskatchewan (USask) is celebrating World Water Day – and showcasing its world-class water research happening on campus and beyond.

On March 22, USask is inviting all of us to think about how we use water. World Water Day is one of the United Nations’ (UN) annual observances intended to raise awareness about access to water and water security issues for people around the world.

Clean Water and Sanitation is also one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – calls to action from the UN that acknowledge the need to address many facets of research and social strategies required by all countries to help address poverty, inequality, health-care issues, our environment and climate change.

Dr. Corinne Schuster-Wallace (PhD), the executive director of the Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS) and an associate professor in USask’s Department of Geography and Planning in the College of Arts and Science, said recognizing World Water Day is critical for a forward-thinking research institute like GIWS at USask.

“It really is a celebration, but also a recognition of the challenges that the world faces around water and obviously those challenges differ from place to place,” she said. “So, bringing the focus down to Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan, we're in a unique ecosystem here, with unique waterscapes and an opportunity to generate and share solutions.”

The World Water Day event at USask will bring together key speakers from the Prairies who play a vital role in how we use and manage our water resources. Representatives from universities, independent research institutions, government bodies, nonprofits and environmental groups will be attending the presentation and roundtable discussion Friday afternoon in USask’s Convocation Hall. Following presentations, there will also be a poster session highlighting the ongoing water research of USask students.

The event’s keynote speaker is Dr. Melissa McCracken (PhD) from Tufts University, and six experts will be involved in the panel discussion chaired by Schuster Wallace titled: “Challenges and opportunities related to drought and water co-operation in Saskatchewan.”

Schuster-Wallace emphasized the importance of collaboration across multiple fronts, noting it will be a requirement to create the most effective strategies for the challenge ahead.

“Our keynote speaker is really going to focus on her research around global water collaboration and the fact that it’s in times of potential crisis that we come together. That’s when the collaboration is stronger,” she said.

The theme for this year’s World Water Day is “Water for Peace.” Schuster-Wallace said the theme addresses issues of water collaboration for both Canada and other countries.

The topic of water scarcity has been at the forefront throughout Western Canada this year, as talk of a drought has circulated widely due to a number of factors, including a limited snowpack in the Rockies and on the Prairies.

Schuster-Wallace said discussions of water security and management are not meant to be a cause for panic, but rather suggestions to help us be better prepared for the future.

“We are in a catch-up (situation),” she said. “Even with Lake Diefenbaker, we do need to replenish the storage in the soils, in the groundwater, in the sloughs as well as kind of get ahead for the spring and the summer, particularly for the crops.”

It’s that kind of research that’s taking place at GIWS, where world-class researchers are delving deeply into what’s next for managing our water resources and what’s happening on the cutting edge of water sciences.

As Schuster–Wallace puts it, the water community at USask is not only undertaking research but also training the next level of leaders in water and climate science – and the World Water Day event is another element of GIWS’ ongoing goals.

“The institute, I see as an amplifier and a magnifier of the water research going on at USask,” she said. “We’re a way to bring people together to generate solutions and move research into practice, and really bridge the research-implementation-impact gap.”


For more information, contact:
Daniel Hallen
USask Media Relations