News at the University of New Brunswick

UNB researcher to lead Canadian research initiatives to address water shortages and flooding

Author: Communications

Posted on Mar 17, 2011

Category: myUNB , UNB Saint John , UNB Fredericton

Within a single generation, recent studies show, water demand in many countries will exceed supply by an estimated 40 per cent, with one-third of humanity having half the water required for life’s basic needs.  In flood-prone places, meanwhile, catastrophic flood events normally expected once a century can now be expected every 20 years instead. Kelly Munkittrick, University of New Brunswick Saint John biology professor and Canada Research Chair in Ecosystem Health Assessment, will be named scientific director of the Canadian Water Network (CWN) tomorrow in Waterloo, Ont. Dr. Munkittrick will lead the development of a network of innovative researchers, practitioners and implementers focused on providing clean, safe and sustainable water across Canada and internationally. The anticipated crises creates a fast-growing need for technologies and services to discover, manage, filter, disinfect and/or desalinate water, improve infrastructure and distribution, and reduce water consumption by households, industry and agriculture.  And Canada is well positioned to mobilize and share worldwide its extensive experience gained stewarding nine per cent of the world’s freshwater supply. “Canada can be a leader in global water issues, but it needs an engine that links the capacity with what the needs are in terms of applying knowledge to solving water issues,” said Dr. Munkittrick. “CWN looks to fulfill that role, and will work with institutes like UNB's Canadian Rivers Institute, to achieve those goals." Robert MacKinnon, vice-president UNB Saint John, says not only has Dr. Munkittrick is making a difference internationally with his research, but he’s also making a significant difference here at home. “Kelly is an exceptional professor who is very popular with his students,” said Dr. MacKinnon.  “He’s one of those professors whose door is always open.” Peter Steblin, chair of CWN’s Board of Directors says Dr. Munkittrick is an accomplished and internationally recognized researcher as well as a leader whose skills will complement the team perfectly. “Kelly has a deep history with CWN and has been involved in many capacities, including serving on the Board of Directors, the Program Management Committee, as a principal researcher and most recently as the lead in developing the watershed consortium,” said Mr. Steblin. “I am delighted to welcome Kelly to the role of Scientific Director and look forward to working with him.” Dr. Munkittrick works at the Canadian Rivers Institute at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, where he assesses the environmental impacts of industrial and agricultural activities and develops methods for environmental effects monitoring and cumulative effects assessment of multiple stressors on aquatic environments. Dr. Munkittrick was the Associate Director of the Canadian Rivers Institute between 2001 and 2011, and has sat on international boards for scientific societies, technical experts and has led numerous working groups. He has helped organize numerous international meetings and workshops and has participated in several expert panels. He has active research projects that assess environmental impacts in Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, the United States and Canada, and he has worked, taught or given invited lectures in more than 25 countries. About the Canadian Water Network Established in 2001 and hosted by the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, the Canadian Water Network was created by the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence program to connect Canadian and international water researchers with decision-makers engaged in priority water management issues. CWN brings together the expertise of researchers, engineers and their students with that of practitioners, policy-makers and implementers, pooling resources to respond to water challenges and ensure a healthy and prosperous future for generations of Canadians. About the University of New Brunswick Established in 1785, UNB is one of the oldest public universities in North America. More than 11,000 full- and part-time students from more than 100 countries are studying on campuses in Fredericton and Saint John and several thousand more take UNB courses online and at partner institutions around the world. As the largest research institution in New Brunswick, UNB conducts more than 75 per cent of the province’s university research. The university has an annual operating budget of more than $165 million and employs more than 3,500 faculty, staff and students.


For more information, please contact: Natasha Ashfield, Communications and Marketing University of New Brunswick 458-7969, Joe Petrik, Communications Manager Canadian Water Network, Waterloo, ON (519) 888-4567, extension 37709,