At a ceremony last month, the University of Saskatchewan and Natural Resources Canada signed a 5-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen the country's commitment to manage its freshwater resources.

U of S Professor John Pomeroy is the Canada 150 Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change, Director of the Centre for Hydrology at the U of S, and the Director of the USask-led Global Water Futures Program, which is the world's largest university-led freshwater research program.

With regard to the collaboration, Pomeroy said, "We've identified a few areas that we want to move on right away. One is on groundwater...better mapping, better prediction, a better understanding of how much of it we can use without depleting our aquifers.  

re size John Pomeroy Athabasca Glacier 00334That's a key one in the province. The other is in using satellites. There's a satellite called GRACE, which measures gravity. It allows measurement of the change in the total water storage, above ground and below ground, over an area of land. That's really important for figuring out both ground- and surface-water changes. Saskatchewan is getting heavier and heavier, since the turn of the century, as we left the drought of 2001 and went into a very wet period, and had our sloughs and lakes fill up and our groundwater levels increase. Now, you can see that drop off in some areas as we enter drought. How to use satellites to predict water resources is really important."

Pomeroy said there are new satellites going up that will be able to accurately measure water levels from space. He said they will help to predict floods and droughts.

Pomeroy said it's difficult to map out river basins on the prairies because of our mild topography and the presence of so many sloughs.

According to the release, the partnership involves USask-led Global Water Futures (GWF) - the world's largest university-led freshwater research program - and Natural Resources Canada. The goal is to advance water research on how climate change impacts ecosystems, river basins, water bodies, and natural resources development.

Read the full release here.

Photos courtesy of the University of Saskatchewan.

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