Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
March 05, 2004
U of G receives funding to protect drinking water sources
The University of Guelph is one of the first universities to receive funding under a new Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) research scholarship intended to help protect drinking water sources.
A research proposal by engineering professor Bahram Gharabaghi was selected to receive $40,000 over two years under the CEO’s Water Quality Research Scholarship program. Gharabaghi will use the funding to hire a graduate student to help develop a geographical information systems (GIS)-based decision making support system for water resources management and planning.
The research will provide conservation authorities with a tool to identify polluted water sources, help locate sources of pollutants, and select the best management practice for improving water quality, Gharabaghi said.
“Water is a highly valuable commodity directly impacting the health and well being of society,” he said. “We need to take steps to better protect and safeguard our most precious natural resources for future generations.”
U of G partnered last December with Environment Canada, the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) and several sister conservation authorities to jointly study distribution and composition of organic contaminants in surface water in several major water systems in southern Ontario.
Gharabaghi’s team plans to use data that partnership generated and calibrate it for use in provincial watersheds. “Our research will provide the tools to quantify the health status of the water bodies, and provide economically feasible, environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable strategies to improve it,” he said.
CEO president John Gamble, whose Toronto-based non-profit organization represents more than 265 firms from across Ontario, said “there’s a big void in source water protection.”
Under the organization’s new $250,000 scholarship program introduced last spring, all Ontario universities are eligible to apply for funding of projects in contaminant detection and treatment, source water protection and economics of drinking water infrastructure.
Gamble said this year’s inaugural scholarship “confirms the respect our industry has for the University of Guelph and its pioneering work in this area.”
Gharabaghi is also studying storm water management in Toronto. He works with the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority in monitoring and modeling storm water runoff from areas under development in order to improve the design and efficiency of management systems and reduce the risk of downstream contamination by untreated runoff.
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