Howard Wheater

Howard Wheater

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security

University of Saskatchewan

“With Howard Wheater's stellar international experience and leadership, and our unparalleled combination of expertise and facilities at the University of Saskatchewan, we will establish a pre-eminent research and training institute on water security—addressing both water quality and quantity issues—with potential to transform how the world uses and manages water.”

― Peter MacKinnon, president, University of Saskatchewan


Howard Wheater is a world expert in hydrological science and sustainable water resource management. He has extensive international experience studying and advising on flood, water resource and water quality issues. He is also vice-chair of the World Climate Research Programme's Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX), and leads UNESCO's arid zone water resources program.

In addition to his title of Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security, Wheater is also a member of the Alberta Environmental Monitoring Panel, the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on Sustainable Management of Water in the Agricultural Landscapes of Canada, the Water Partner Advisory Committee to the Council of the Federation Water Stewardship Council, and an International Court of Arbitration concerning the Indus Waters Treaty.

Before arriving in Canada, Wheater served as professor of hydrology and director of the Environment Forum at the United Kingdom's Imperial College London. He holds a PhD in hydrology from Bristol University and a first-class degree in engineering science from the University of Cambridge. He was president of the British Hydrological Society and is a fellow of the UK's Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Civil Engineers, and the American Geophysical Union. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers and six books, and has won several academic awards, including the prestigious Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water.

Sustaining the World's Water Resources

Climate change, pollution and overuse of water resources threaten the world's water security. Across Canada and around the world, there are increasing concerns about the quality and availability of water over the long term, both for public consumption and to support industry, agriculture, resource development and the proper functioning of ecosystems. In addition, flooding and droughts, some of the most damaging and costly natural hazards, are projected to increase as the climate warms.

Howard Wheater, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan, leads a team of experts in water-related science, health, social science and policy at the Global Institute for Water Security. Housed in Environment Canada's National Hydrology Research Centre in Saskatoon, this global institute is unique in Canada, and represents one of the world's most important clusters of water-related expertise. At the institute, multidisciplinary science, engineering and social science teams work with industrial and government partners to address four broad research themes: climate change and water security; land-water management and environmental change; sustainable development of natural resources; and socio-hydrology.

Through this research, Wheater and the institute's experts aim is to improve water use and management, advance water policy, and provide new tools for environmental risk assessment and remediation. Their discoveries will help communities better prepare for and manage threats, such as flooding and drought. It will help governments develop better water policies and ensure the safety of our drinking water supply. This research will also increase our understanding of how to minimize and manage the negative effects of oil sands, mining, agriculture and pollution on the world's water supply.



Release date

October 11, 2011

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Read the Transcript

Howard Wheater, University of Saskatchewan

My name is Howard Wheater and I'm the newly appointed CERC Chair in Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan. My aim is to do world-class research but research that makes a difference. And we have the challenge in water security of a set of issues, which actually affect everybody.

There are real stresses throughout the world, but there are also a whole range of important issues that affect Canada and Western Canada in particular. So we'll be looking at several of those. So one area is natural resource development, the issues of mining, of oil sands, the water needs, the wastes that are generated, the need for remediation, pollution control.

A second area is looking at the issue of land and its interaction with water and particularly nutrients and the associated water quality issues that arise, for example, from human sewage and agricultural pollution.

And then finally, I guess the big one is climate change and its affect on water resources. So Canada is really at the forefront of global warming and all around us the environment is changing. Glaciers are retreating in the Rocky Mountains, permafrost is thawing. Really dramatic and quite rapid changes.

You know, with the additional funding available from the CERC Chair, then, I think we can really make some powerful new developments in the science and technology that we need to address issues of water security.

In addition, we have outstanding leadership in the university who have taken water as an issue and seen the challenge both in Canada and globally, and been prepared to lead and invest in the area.