Why focus on small systems?
Most Canadians who live in mid-size and large urban centres take drinking water for granted –clean drinking water is only as far away as your nearest tap.
However, a shocking number of small communities struggle to provide drinkable water on a regular basis, putting six million Canadians at risk for water-borne disease. Small public water systems serve over 30 million people in North America and about 2.5 billion people globally.
RES’EAU-WaterNET is a five-year, $7 million program, 30% funded from partnership with 24 public and private organizations matched by 70% funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). In addition, the program leverages over $5 million in human and technological capital from our partner organizations to support the implementation of our internationally recognized Community Circle approach.
Our focus is on achieving breakthroughs in engineering, chemistry, genomics and the social sciences that can be applied to water health monitoring and treatment technology development, as well as novel approaches to treating water for microbial and chemical contamination, algal toxins and taste and odour compounds.
Scroll down to learn more about our Community Circle approach.
In many indigenous cultures, the circle is a powerful symbol of inclusivity, connectivity and cohesion. These concepts are what drives RES'EAU-WaterNET's approach to co-creation and problem solving using traditional, cultural, scientific and pragmatic approaches.
This model takes our research program out of the lab and into the real world, incorporating communities, operators, and all stakeholders’ expertise and insight at the earliest stages of the problem-solving process. We work closely with communities to understand the limitations and constraints they face. Then, we identify research priorities and design and execute research to produce knowledge and integrated game-changing solutions. These approaches are then validated by industry so that they can be readily diffused and adopted.
The RES’EAU team is at the very early stages of defining a vibrant market space for innovative solutions specific to small water systems. These solutions will be piloted in collaboration with both public and private sector partners and according to guidelines set out by regulatory agencies, either at public sector facilities and/or subsequently in actual communities. Successful solutions will then be scaled up through partnerships with national and international strategic programs, or by industry partners.
We work with partnering communities to identify the key challenges they face, and to design and execute research to produce knowledge and technologies suited to their needs. We then pilot test promising new solutions in the field, and integrate community feedback into our refinement process. Our approaches are then validated by industry so that they can be readily diffused to and adopted by the communities that stand to benefit from them.
The result is a targeted research program that puts small, rural and First Nations communities' needs first, while accelerating the development of affordable and sustainable water treatment solutions. The RES’EAU R&D team includes 18 world-class scientists from eight universities across Canada, supported by more than 100 students and post-doctoral fellows.
Our program is divided into three themes of investigation (click on the icons to learn more):