Water is not an isolated commodity for the small, off-grid and Indigenous communities we serve. It's at the heart of community health – the collective wellbeing of all who share their lives in the same place – along with housing, infrastructure, energy and more. Find out how RES'EAU is engaging with these communities to develop and articulate community health goals, while linking solution providers and residents in conversations and shared learning that decipher the code to success in the era of reconciliation. Learn more about the impacts of our unique Community Circle approach to improving community health by watching the video above.

Click here to read a white paper on how we approach innovation for small, rural and Indigenous communities.

Achieving socially and technologically sustainable outcomes in drinking water systems for small, rural and indigenous communities

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.

Economic problems faced by small and rural communities are rooted in the complexities of knowledge sharing and utilization — no single individual or organization possesses all relevant quantitative and qualitative data required to holistically assess a complex issue. Similarly, no single individual or organization can solve the problem, and so information flow and collaboration are vitally necessary to success. In this context, the crucial problems are: What is the best method by which the knowledge that is initially dispersed among few people/stakeholders can be made as widely available as possible? And, how can the planning of solutions be coordinated?

RES’EAU-WaterNET is the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) strategic response to society’s changing expectations about what research and development (R&D) partnerships should deliver. Universities can only survive if they are relevant and meet community aspirations. Inventions can only become innovations when communities buy into them. RES'EAU is a five-year, $8 million program, 40% funded from partnership with 20 public and private organizations matched by 60% funding from the 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 and award winning Community Circle Model for Strategic Innovation .

Click  to learn more about our Community Circle Model for Strategic Innovation.. 


How Do We Solve Boil Water Advisories in First Nations Communities? RES

How Do We Solve Boil Water Advisories in First Nations Communities? RES'EAU Researcher Discusses Complexity of Solutions on CBC

Feb 6, 2018 - Dr. Ed McBean of the University of Guelph looks at what it might take to improve access to drinking water in Canada's First Nations reserves.
Our Position Paper - Breaking Through...

Our Position Paper - Breaking Through...

Oct 25, 2017 - Breaking Through-Achieving socially and technologically sustainable outcomes in drinking water systems for small, rural and indigenous communities

RES'EAU Board Member & Long-Time Collaborator Wins 2017 Water's Next Award

Jun 23, 2017 - RES'EAU BOD member Ted Molyneux, Sr. Engineer, Water/Wastewater for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, wins in the Academia category for his contributions to improving drinking water in small and First Nations communities.
Community Circles Program Honoured with BCWWA Award

Community Circles Program Honoured with BCWWA Award

May 31, 2017 - Industry panel selects program for Excellence and Innovation in the Water and Waste Industry Award.


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):

click to view infographic