Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

The Magazine Of Queen's University

2019 Issue 3

Search form

Story updates: Water

Story updates: Water

[photo of a dock overlooking a lake with trees in the background]
Queen's University Marketing

Our water issue (February 2018) profiled the new Beaty Water Research Centre (BWRC) at Queen’s. The BWRC fosters an environment that encourages collaborative interdisciplinary research, education, and outreach, spanning traditional water-related disciplines, as well as non-traditional and emerging disciplines. 

In June, a team of students from BWRC qualified for the finals of the AquaHacking Challenge in Toronto. The Sensing Wastewater with Infrared Monitoring (SWIM) team competed  against 15 other teams in the event, which aims to create innovative solutions for water-related issues in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Watershed Basin. SWIM is developing a new technology, combining an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with an HD visible-spectrum camera and an infrared sensor. It will be used to detect and track sewage overflow, providing rapid results related to sewage overflow and contamination.

During high rainfall events, untreated sewage is discharged into nearby rivers, lakes, and oceans through combined sewer overflow to prevent sewer back-ups and flooding. In Ontario, there are more than 800 registered beaches to monitor. Last year, within the Ottawa River Valley alone, there were more than 65 closures at local beaches. SWIM will work toward helping protect the public from exposures to sewage pollution through monitoring beaches and pinpointing areas affected by sewer overflows.

The SWIM team is composed of three graduate students in the Department of Civil Engineering – David Blair, Shuang Liang, and Alexander Rey – with Maraika De Groot, a student in the Master of Management, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship program at Smith School of Business. They’ll compete in the AquaHacking Challenge finals on Oct. 25. The winning team will receive $25,000 toward initial capital and a spot at an incubator.


In September, the BWRC will offer a new program, LEADERS in water and watershed sustainability, funded by NSERC's Collaborative Research and Training Experience initiative. Led by Stephen Brown, Professor, Department of Chemistry and Environmental Studies, the LEADERS program will offer 44 graduate and 24 undergraduate tudents an opportunity to work at the forefront of water research through an interdisciplinary lens to develop water-related science and policy.

[wordmark for WATIF conference]Since 2014, the BWRC has hosted the Water Initiative for the Future (WATIF) conference, which is organized by graduate students. WATIF offers students the opportunity to share their research, develop leadership skills, and form new collaborations with peers. The next WATIF conference, chaired by David Blair, takes place in early 2019.

Also in 2019, the centre will launch an online Water and Human Health graduate diploma program, the first of four planned accredited graduate diploma programs. 

[cover graphic of Queen's Alumni Review, issue 3-2018]