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SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Blue icon with graphic of water glass with arrow to represent UNSDG Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation.

In 2022, 2.2 billion people still lacked safely-managed drinking water

The demands that contemporary society places on water resources are immense: water safe to drink; water for agriculture and industrial processes; water for recreation. And when water has been consumed, used or processed, the wastewater must be treated, and runoff must be managed to prevent contaminating the environment and endangering the water supply.  


High-impact research

Dal supports Indigenous utility's promise of safer water for all
Dal's Centre for Water Resources Studies assisted the Atlantic First Nation Water Authority in creating the first water-quality compliance standards to be applied to a First Nations water system in this country. Their work helped to fill a critical gap by establishing benchmarks for water quality, a regulatory framework that did not exist previously because unlike other public utilities, First Nations water systems are unregulated. Read the Dal News story about this work with AFNWA.

Dal researchers tested the water in a local lake for viruses. Here's what they found
A simple sampling method used by the researchers detected a host of viruses lurking in a recreational lake, offering an affordable way to monitor for pathogens in freshwater. Read the Dal News story about the water testing.

Centre for Water Resources Studies
The Centre for Water Resources Studies (CWRS) was established in 1981 by the Faculty of Engineering to pool the research resources of Dalhousie University to address real challenges faced by the community and provide a platform for the development and appropriate application of water technology; water quality analysis and advancement; and outreach through knowledge transfer to our stakeholders.   

From trash to treasure: Sustainable solutions for wastewater treatment
The Bioenergy and Bioproducts Research Lab focuses on converting abundantly available biomass waste into  materials for environmental remediation applications, primarily wastewater treatment. The converted waste can absorb pollutants and contaminants from wastewater or be used as photocatalysts to degrade pollutants in water. Read the Dal News story about this wastewater treatment solution.

Freshwater research supports water security in Canada’s Arctic communities
The modelling tool developed by Dr. Medeiros is directly supporting access to clean water in Arctic communities. By forecasting their future water requirements, communities will be able to improve municipal planning and engineering for freshwater supply services. Read the Dal News story about this research in the Arctic.

Water world: Meet one of the Dal experts making international waves in clean‑water research and outreach
Dal ranked among the top 20 universities in the world and third in Canada in the 2021 Time Higher Education Impact Rankings for its research, outreach and stewardship in the 'Clean Water and Sanitation' category. Learn more about Rob Jamieson, one of the university's leading researchers in the area. Read the Dal News story about clean water research.

Blazing a trail for others to follow
Dr. Graham Gagnon and his team at the Centre for Water Resource Studies have been instrumental in guiding the formation of the Atlantic First Nation Water Authority, the first Indigenous owned and operated water and wastewater utility in Canada. The CWRS meets regularly with both the Legislative team with Indigenous Services Canada and the Assembly of First Nation’s legal counsel as advisors on technical considerations for the new Act and eventual Regulations. Read the Dal News story about the formation of the AFNWA.

Exceptional student experience

Sustain the environment for future generations
From ensuring our drinking water is clean to remediation of environmental hazards involving soil and air pollution, Environmental Engineering will enable you to develop technical solutions to protect and improve the quality of the environment and environmental-related quality of human life. 

Integrated Environmental Management
Graduates of the Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) major gain a strong scientific background and enhance their analytical and critical thinking skills, allowing them to practically and creatively address key issues facing the world today, including new and renewable energy sources, resource and waste management affecting our environment and clean water.

Learn in a 4500 square foot state-of-the-art water quality analysis laboratory
The Clean Water Laboratory has the capacity to evaluate the physical, chemical and microbiological properties of drinking water, waste water and industrial effluents. The Clean Water Laboratory is home base to over 30 graduate students from various disciplines of engineering.

Civic university with global impact

Enhancing resilience in Canada's water sector
Dalhousie’s Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Initiative is joining with several organizations to research ways to enhance the resilience of Canada’s water sector. “The CIP Initiative at Dalhousie is doing work of national significance in water security,” says Dr. Kevin Quigley, director of the School of Public Administration and principal investigator of the CIP Initiative. “We will help to determine the risks associated with water supply and how to address them.”

Engineering panel explores solutions for Indigenous communities struggling to access clean water
Faculty of Engineering hosted a panel discussion that explored how Indigenous communities are impacted by water infrastructure and accessibility issues. Watch the full video of the Engineering IMPACT event Water & Indigenous Communities on YouTube.

Freshwater and marine systems: water is the next oil
Freshwater and marine systems research at the School for Resource and Environmental Studies addresses a range of biological, legal and socio-political aspects of water and water-related resource management. If you need water-related expertise, work with us or contact an individual faculty member. We regularly work with all levels of government and community groups with water portfolios.

Centre for Water Resource Studies work in the community

  • From Research to Policy: In 2007, Halifax Water entered a research partnership with Graham Gagnon and the Centre for Water Resource Studies (CWRS) at Dalhousie University. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada/Halifax Water Industrial Research Chair in Water Quality and Treatment is an integral part of conducting the research that informs Halifax Water's internal policies, operational changes, and treatment optimization opportunities.
  • Dr. Gagnon et al. have worked for over a decade to understand and advocate for the role of water safety planning and sanitation safety planning in First Nations water governance and risk mitigation. The team published an article summarizing the role of sanitation safety planning as a guiding framework for First Nations.
  • During 2020/2021 Dr. Gagnon et al. prepared a manuscript (reviewed/revised in 2021, accepted Jan 7 2022) which described a risk-management system created with First Nation water operators to help improve water security and water quality in First Nations in the Atlantic region. The conclusion of this paper highlights the need for data and knowledge management tools for First Nations water operators to ensure safe and clean drinking water. The matrix developed by Dr. Kaycie Lane, a recent PhD graduate of the CWRS is a user-friendly way of conducting multiparameter risk assessments of a water system from source to tap. This work has been extended and applied to the Atlantic First Nations Water Authority (AFNWA).
  • Dr. Gagnon et al. have been instrumental in guiding the formation of the Atlantic First Nation Water Authority, the first Indigenous owned and operated water and wastewater utility in Canada. The 2021 Transitional Implementation plan (page 17) highlights the role of Dalhousie University, through the CWRS, in developing water safety planning for the utility, as well as benchmark standards and interim regulations. This work has national significance, as a new Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act is currently being drafted.
  • Dr. Gagnon was invited as a key note speaker at the National Environmental Public Health Officer Annual Training for Indigenous Services Canada’s (ISC) First Nation and Inuit Heath Branch (FNIHB) 2022 training conference. The planning and development of the key note address was done in late 2021 and delivered in February 2022.
  • CWRS staff (Dr. Megan Fuller) is a member of the CWWA’s subcommittee on Drinking Water Quality Management and a member of the steering committee that hosted the CWWA’s March 2022 Symposium: Global Lessons for Safe Drinking Water through Quality Management. The activities of the subcommittee bring together water experts across Canada to provide policy and strategy advice for water utilities regarding safe and sustainable drinking water. 

Foundation for inclusion and distinction

Reducing water consumption
The university has completed many water efficiency projects such as adding sensors to older urinal tanks, installing low flow fixtures and toilets for new and existing buildings, adding rain water cisterns in new buildings, and retrofitting large research water units to recycle water (Aquatron).

Dalhousie is slowing down stormwater using the natural environment and innovative building practices
Developing ways to retain, filter, infiltrate, and re-use stormwater is something Dalhousie University has been implementing as part of new development and renovation projects. Plant material plays a large role in filtering pollutants, slowing the flow of water, and removing water through the process of evaporation.

Sustainable water extraction on campus
Two wells are used at the Agricultural campus to serve aquaculture research. They are managed in accordance to provincial regulations and do not exceed allowances. Water withdrawal is reported annually [PDF-69.9 KB].