media release

SFU creates Pacific Water Research Centre

The Pacific Water Research Centre will focus on addressing key global concerns around the impact of climate change on water usage and availability

June 19, 2015

Ingrid Leman Stefanovic, 778.782.8797,
Murray Rutherford, 778.782.4968,
Steve Conrad, 604.649.6746,
Carol Thorbes, University Communications, 778.782.3035,


Simon Fraser University Faculty of Environment Dean Ingrid Leman Stefanovic will announce the creation of the faculty’s new Pacific Water Research Centre (PWRC) at two events about water issues in Vancouver next week.

The events are SFU Blue on June 24 at the university’s Morris J. Wosk Centre and the  6th annual Canadian Water Summit on June 25 at Vancouver’s Bayshore Inn. SFU President Andrew Petter will address the summit.

The summit will bring together 250 plus national and international industry, governmental, community and academic leaders to discuss pressing issues related to water availability and usage in a constructive light.

At SFU Blue, SFU researchers collaborating with industry, government and the university on water-related research will participate in discussions about how the world needs to adapt to conserving stressed and dwindling water resources.

Steven Conrad, an SFU School of Resource and Environmental Management (REM) PhD candidate, will be a presenter and moderator at SFU Blue.

“Just as we can no longer rely on the climate being stationary, we can no longer rely on water cycles being stationary,” says Conrad, who researchers water issues and public response to them in the Okanagan. “However, as the PWRC is located in a province with a long history of managing uncertainty in its fisheries and forests, the centre is well positioned to consider British Columbian approaches to climate change and water issues.”

Responding to growing regional, national and global concerns about the world’s dwindling water resources, Stefanovic, a researcher with a multi-disciplinary background, envisioned the PWRC.

The centre will be a mecca of cross-disciplinary collaborative research applied to mitigating real world water crises globally; its research agenda will be driven by community concerns

“Traditionally, academics have engaged in research and, at best, then sought to apply it to the real world,” explains Stefanovic. “The goal of the PWRC aims to inform research questions on the strength of local and regional priorities, to ensure that community-engaged research leads to positive, community-relevant changes.”

REM professor Murray Rutherford, PWRC’s interim director, adds:  

“Communities that have directly experienced water scarcity are at the forefront in creating innovative programs to conserve water and better manage its provision and use,” says Rutherford. “A big part of the PWRC’s mandate will be to help researchers and policymakers learn from the experiences of these communities and communicate the lessons to other settings.”

The PWRC’s birth follows the World Economic Forum’s identification of a critical water shortage, due to climate change and other factors, as a major risk to global stability.

“From infrastructural renewal challenges to maintaining water quality and quantity, water issues are intimately tied to broad environmental changes that are affecting us on a planetary scale,” says Stefanovic.

As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement.  SFU was founded almost 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is a leader amongst Canada's comprehensive research universities and is ranked one of the top universities in the world under 50 years of age. With campuses in British Columbia's three largest cities—Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby—SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 30,000 students, and boasts more than 130,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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