Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

April 22, 2005

U of G Prof Receives Federal Support for Water Research

A University of Guelph engineering professor will share in $3 million in support announced this week as part of a new federal research program. Prof. Edward McBean’s project on improving the resilience of water infrastructure is one of six selected nationwide to receive inaugural funding.

McBean, who holds a prestigious Canada Research Chair in Water Supply Security at Guelph, received $256,000 from Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada and Science and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC) as part of the Joint Interdependencies Research Program. It was created last March to support ongoing national efforts to secure and protect Canada’s critical infrastructure. This is the first round of funded projects.

McBean will examine the links among meteorology, water supply, waste-water systems, communications, emergency response and health infrastructure. “The influence and interaction of one system’s performance on another are a key to their successful performance,” he said. “One infrastructure cannot be considered in isolation. For example, a severe rainstorm may wreak havoc on the water supply system, creating health risks for residents. When does a boil-water advisory need to be disseminated and when should it be terminated?”

A longtime environmental engineer and risk management specialist, McBean joined U of G in 2003. Assessing water supply systems and helping decision-makers find ways to make those systems safer in Canada and abroad is the purpose of his position in the School of Engineering. He studies what engineers call the “fate and transport” of chemicals and other contaminants in water and their impact on water quality. Prior to joining U of G, he was vice-president of Conestoga-Rovers & Associates and a professor at the University of Waterloo for 21 years. Working alongside experts from the World Bank and the United Nations, McBean has also consulted on dozens of water supply projects in 40 countries in North and South America, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

As part of the Joint Interdependencies Research Program, McBean and the other project leaders will attend a national workshop later this spring, meeting with industry, government and international experts to discuss practical applications of their research. Other projects include developing models for emergency management and models to simulate critical infrastructure networks; studying the domino effects in left-supporting networks; and using geographic decision support systems in emergency management.

“This is the first research program of its kind in Canada,” said Anne McLellan, deputy prime minister and minister of public safety and emergency preparedness. “The research will produce new science-based knowledge that will help infrastructure managers better assess the risk of failures and prevent them, or at least mitigate their potentially devastating economic and societal impacts.”

Prof. Edward McBean
School of Engineering
(519) 84-4120, Ext.53923

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