Our Actions and Goals

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
6. Clean Water and Sanitation

Our goals in action

Research and innovation

[Line drawing of rain droplets]

Queen’s actively promotes conscious water usage on campus, and in the wider community.

Tracking COVID-19

Queen’s researchers are collaborating with universities and utility companies across Ontario to support the Wastewater Surveillance Initiative. The project, which is coordinated and funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, will determine how wastewater surveillance for COVID-19 can be used in combination with clinical data to help proactively inform public health decision-making and protect our communities.

[Photo of Pangnirtung, Nunavut by micky renders]
Queen's Art of Research Submission: Art and Waste Project Pangnirtung, Nunavut by micky renders (School of Environmental Studies), Pangnirtung, Nunavut

World-class research improving water quality

Queen’s Professor John Smol, former Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, specializes in water conservation. Dr. Smol’s award-winning work uses lake sediment samples to better understand the impact of natural and human activities on environmental change. Dr. Smol is one of 18 researchers in the Canadian Lake Pulse Network working together to examine the conditions of Canada’s Great Lakes.

Professors Sarah Jane Payne and Yves Filion lead Queen’s Drinking Water Quality Group focused on researching the factors and mechanisms that lead to poor water quality in drinking water systems and developing innovative technologies and best practices to protect drinking water in Canadian systems.

Teaching and student life

Queen's is a bottled water free campus

[Photo of a water dispenser in Mac-Corry]

Queen’s University has had a campus-wide ban on bottled water sales and distribution for almost a decade. Instead, we have more than 200 drinking fountains and free bottle-fill stations across our campus, which students can locate using an online map.

Growing research at Queen’s

Students and researchers have access to the Queen's University Phytotron to conduct plant research and other biological applications. The Phytotron is comprised of six climate-controlled greenhouse compartments and 26 growth chambers housing more than 150 tropical, subtropical, and Mediterranean plant species.

[Photo of Queen's University Phytotron]

Community impact

Water management educational opportunities

Understanding the need to engage communities in environmental strategies, Queen’s runs ongoing outreach programs for local communities to learn about effective water management. The Beaty Water Research Centre (BWRC) is an interdisciplinary research and education centre that focuses on water governance, use, resources, and quality. The Centre hosts regular outreach events throughout Kingston, including the Great Lake Water Festival, the EngAGE Engineering Summer Academy, and the BWRC Research Symposium. These programs aim to motivate the community to become water stewards in their homes, classrooms, and communities.


The Queen’s University Biological Station is home to a number of wetlands and conservation areas. The station runs regular events related to natural history, environmental management, and water conservation that are open to the community and international student researchers.

As a satellite facility of the Queen’s University Biological Station, the Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre offers curriculum-based programs year-round that encourage local high school students to explore and measure local biodiversity through field-based scientific investigation.

[Researchers at Queen's University Biological Station]

Global reach

Inspiring future leaders in water sustainability

Queen’s was the proud host of the 2021 Leaders in Water and Watershed Sustainability Symposium. This free annual public event, organized in conjunction with the Network on Persistent, Emerging, and Organic PoLlution in the Environment (PEOPLE Network) and The LEaders in wAter anD watERshed Sustainability (LEADERS-CREATE) research group, brings together students, researchers, and experts at the forefront of water research. Through workshops, roundtable discussions and career sessions, the symposium aims to inspire and develop future leaders in water-related science and policy.

[Queen's researchers sampling water in Lake Ontario]

Understanding sanitation inequalities

Safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are critical for human development, yet women and girls are disproportionally affected by inadequate WASH services. The Empowerment in WASH Index (EWI) developed at Queen’s by Dr. Elijah Bisung measures water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) -related interventions and aims to solve gender disparities in access to these basic needs. This pragmatic survey-based tool is currently being developed and piloted in different cultural settings around the globe.

Administration and operations

[Line drawing of a faucet and the number 3,084]

The CAPIt completed 1147 toilet retrofits, 61 urinal retrofits, 353 shower head replacements, and installed 1,523 faucet moderators.

Water-conscious building standards and policies

The Queen’s Conservation and Demand Management Plan applies building standards and policies to minimize water use, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Our Building Design Standards also include LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) water targets. Our Custodial Services have also gone green, and now exclusively use certified green cleaning products and reusable microfiber cloths.

[A photo of a Queen's Custodial Services staff member using green cleaning products in Mitchell Hall]

Spearheading water conservation throughout campus

From 2014-2018, Queen’s, through its CAPIt program, completed significant energy conservation renewal projects throughout its campus, resulting in 185,000 m3 water use reduction.

2022 Announcement

7th in the world
7th in the world

7th in the World

Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

Read the full story