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Date: November 24, 2004

UVic Research Program on Drinking Water Ecology
Receives $9 Million Renewal

A UVic research program on the ecological processes that contribute to clean and healthy drinking water will continue for another five years, thanks to more than $9 million in new funding and in-kind support from government, utility and industry sources.

The NSERC Industrial Research Chair in the Environmental Management of Drinking Water, established at UVic in 1999, conducts interdisciplinary research on a wide range of issues related to drinking water, watershed management, fisheries and land-use activities.

Cash funding for the chair totals more than $4.9 million over the next five years. Of that, $2.08 million comes from Science and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC). The rest comes from partners: the Capital Regional District (CRD) Water Services Department; the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) Water Department and BC Hydro; the Nanaimo Water Department; LGL Ltd. Environmental Research Associates; and UVic.

Another $4.3 million of in-kind support—equipment, infrastructure and staff time—will come from the partners and other collaborators, including federal and provincial agencies and the beef and cattle industry.

“The close collaboration between this chair and local water providers is an excellent example of collaboration between researchers and those who can apply research results,” says Dr. Tom Brzustowski, president of NSERC. “And of course, ensuring that our drinking water stays clean and safe is an essential public health responsibility.”

“This chair program has been highly successful in its first five years,” says Dr. Martin Taylor, UVic’s vice president research. “It has created new long-term relationships with government agencies, communities and resource industries and has established UVic as a major centre for drinking water-related research in Canada.”

The chair program is headed by UVic ecologist Dr. Asit Mazumder and involves more than 30 scientists, postdoctoral students, graduate students, technicians and undergraduates working on a wide variety of research projects (see Backgrounder).

Over the last five years, Mazumder has established a state-of-the-art laboratory for detecting and analysing taste and odour compounds, contaminants, toxins, drugs, disinfection byproducts and nutrients. “It’s one of the best-equipped water research labs in B.C,. and Canada,” he says.

The program has also forged strong partnerships with utilities, governments, communities and industry, who are seeking science-based solutions to water quality issues or new equipment, applications and services related to drinking water monitoring and assessment.

“This chair has been an invaluable resource to us over the past five years,” says Nils Jensen, chair of the Victoria-area Regional Water Supply Commission. “The research has given us a much better understanding of water quality issues surrounding the expansion of Sooke Reservoir and is allowing us to take science-based steps to ensure that our drinking water remains safe.”

The chair program is also informing provincial and federal governments as they develop and strengthen guidelines for protecting and managing watersheds that supply drinking water.

“The quality and quantity of Canada’s water resources are being strained by tremendous political, demographic and economic pressures,” says Mazumder. “Our research will help provincial and federal governments develop and strengthen guidelines for ensuring clean drinking water—from source to tap.”

Media contacts:
Dr. Asit Mazumder (Biology) at (250) 888-2559 or mazumder@uvic.ca
Stewart Irwin (CRD Water Services Dept.) at (250) 474-9603
Valerie Shore (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-7641 or vshore@uvic.ca

NSERC-IRC Chair in Drinking Water Management

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