Even with all the fresh water in the Great Lakes basin, Canadians are right to be protective over our clean water resources. Irena Creed from Western University and Philippe van Cappellen, professors from Western University and the University of Waterloo respectively, both study water, bringing their knowledge from the field back to develop clean water technologies and tools to help inform government policies. Water knows no boundaries, and access to clean water is a global issue that impacts both our well-being and our economy.
Creed explains that fresh water is like money in the bank: every time we withdraw from our reserves they deplete, so how can we protect that water for the future?
To understand how to tackle these problems, both researchers start focus on better understanding how water behaves in nature. Creed looks at how water transforms as it passes through our landscape. As water flows through soil or runs through our rivers and lakes, it can feed our forests and wildlife, but it can also carry contaminants or participate in reactions that form greenhouse gases. Understanding how water transforms can help the government put the right protective measures in place.
Van Cappellen looks to nature for inspiration. Many green technologies start by mimicking processes that already happen in nature, and understanding these processes at a fundamental level helps transfer these concepts to real world applications. These technologies not only protect our water, they also help drive our economy and inform public debate about water issues and policies.