The University of Guelph is a world leader in water research and has the following experts available who can speak about water resources, water quality and water policy ahead of this year’s World Water Day.

World Water Day has been celebrated every March 22 since 1993 to increase awareness of the importance of freshwater and management of freshwater resources.  This year, the theme “Leaving no one behind,” focuses on why marginalized groups – including Indigenous peoples, disabled people, refugees and many others – are often overlooked or face discrimination as they try to access and manage safe water.


Sheri Longboat

Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 52138

Longboat, a Haudenosaunee Mohawk and band member of the Six Nations of the Grand River, studies water governance issues, including looking for ways to ensure safe drinking water for First Nations reserves, using both Western and Indigenous knowledge systems. Of critical concern to Longboat is the fact that despite Canada’s vast freshwater supplies, one in six First Nations communities do not have access to safe drinking water – a situation that has persisted for decades. A lack of binding regulations for water quality on reserves is partly to blame, she says, as are insufficient resources for maintaining water systems.

Ed McBean

Professor, School of Engineering
Phone: 519 824-4120 Ext. 53923

McBean is an expert on water supply security and is a Canada Research Chair in Water Supply Security and a University of Guelph Research Leadership Chair in Water Security. He researches what steps are needed to decrease the vulnerability of Canada’s water supply systems, and is seeking ways of improving threat detection procedures for water supply systems.
One of his recent studies examined drinking water advisories in First Nations communities and found that while many are due to equipment malfunctions or inadequate disinfection, they are often issued before any actual decline in drinking water quality. Improved monitoring technology could significantly reduce the number of precautionary water advisories, his research found.

Beth Parker

Professor, School of Engineering
Phone number: 519-824-4120, Ext. 53642

Parker specializes in the science and practice of contaminant hydrogeology, which concerns the occurrence, migration and fate of contamination in groundwater. Parker is the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Groundwater Contamination in Fractured Media and studies the transport and fate of contaminants in fractured sedimentary rock aquifers.
As sedimentary bedrock aquifers become increasingly important in water security, the need for better understanding of fractured rock has become globally important for cities, municipalities, agriculture, oil and gas development, mining and beyond. Parker’s research aims to build the knowledge needed to avoid more aquifer contamination and manage and track existing contamination.

Sheng Chang

Professor, School of Engineering
Phone: 519 824-4120, Ext. 56619

Chang is an environmental engineer who is researching ways of converting organic and food waste in wastewater into valuable resources. His aim is to develop more efficient and cost-effective anaerobic digestion technologies to better recover energy and resources from sewage sludge and food waste, with the eventual goal of “energy-neutral” water treatment.
He and his team recently received more than $2 million in funding from the Ontario Research Fund to build a global research hub for anaerobic digestion research. His team is now developing new biological nutrient removal systems using anaerobic membrane bioreactors to create a cost-effective method of treating industrial wastewater.

Paul Sibley

Professor, School of Environmental Sciences
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 52707

Sibley’s research focuses on issues of water quality and water management, including environmental assessments of the effects of new and emerging chemicals. He has examined a number of pharmaceuticals and personal care products found in drinking water supplies and found that while only a few of these substances raise warning flags, the ones that do include chemicals that mimic or block hormones and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Sibley’s work aims to help Canadians understand the risks associated with everyday chemicals in the environment with particular interest in developing improved mechanisms to explain these relative risks to the public.

John FitzGibbon

Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development 
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 56784

FitzGibbon researches agricultural water use, water quality management, snow melt hydrology and the hydrology of wetlands. His current research is focused on community-based watershed planning and management in water resources governance. This includes development of a risk-based assessment and management of phosphorus losses from agricultural operation; management of on-site water and wastewater systems; and inter-municipal collaboration on delivery of municipal water services. 

Andrew MacDougall

Professor, Department of Integrative Biology
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 56570

Much of MacDougall’s research looks at the drivers of fish diversity, examining the different characteristics of lakes, rivers and streams in Ontario and elsewhere to see how they impact fish species. He recently completed research that found human-created water changes are more of a threat to freshwater fish diversity than predators. Those changes include lake warming caused by climate change and water quality impacts caused by such human activities as farming. His team found that lake conditions had a big impact on food chain interactions in freshwater bodies and the strength of those interactions depend fully on the environment. One of his recent projects found climate change is impacting food webs in Ontario lakes.

Josef Ackerman

Professor, Department of Integrative Biology
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 58268

As an aquatic biologist, Ackerman researches the ecology of organisms within Canadian freshwater systems. He has particular interest in native mussel species recovery in Ontario, as well as on hypoxia (low oxygen) in the Great Lakes and their watersheds. Much of his recent research has included examining two destructive invasive species: zebra mussels and round goby fish.

Kevin McCann

Associate Professor, Department of Integrative Biology
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 56861

McCann’s research focuses on the structure and function of food webs. One of his recent projects found climate change is impacting food webs in Ontario lakes. His work looks at the impact of land management on the sustainability and resilience of adjacent ecosystems including aquatic ecosystems and fisheries. He uses big data to help detect patterns in complicated ecosystems and seeks solutions such as “precision agriculture,” which involves the targeted use of crop fertilizers to lessen pollutants entering lakes and streams.

Andreas Heyland

Professor, Department of Integrative Biology
Phone number: 519-824-4120, Ext. 56459

One of Heyland’s most recent projects involves using algae to filter nutrients from water. The aim is to develop a technology that can be used in large-scale aquafarms. Heyland’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms underlying life history transitions in marine invertebrates, such as sea urchins and sand dollars. He is particularly interested in metamorphosis and the role of hormonal signalling systems. While metamorphosis is often associated with butterflies or frogs, most marine invertebrate undergo metamorphic life cycles, moving from a larval stage into adult as they settle onto the ocean floor.

Robin Davidson-Arnott

Professor Emeritus, Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics
Phone: 519 824-4120, Ext. 56719

Davidson-Arnott’s research has focused on coastline erosion on bluff coasts, particularly erosion caused from climate change including beach/dune interaction and salt marsh dynamics in the Bay of Fundy. He recently contributed to a North American report to be released this week that outlines the impact of climate change on the Great Lakes Region. In the report, he specifically contributed information related to the impact of climate change on coastal areas along the Great Lakes. He retired from the University of Guelph in 2009 as professor emeritus, but remains active in research, consulting and professional development.

Please contact the researchers directly for interviews.