RBC Queen's Water Initiative

Kent Novakowski, Professor and Head, Department of Civil Engineering

The project is fundamentally associated with developing awareness of water as a resource, and in fact water as a very valuable resource that we need to perhaps spend a little more time thinking about. And it's very difficult to do that without really having an understanding of how water moves through our hydrologic cycle. And this is a means by which we can educate people.

The focus of all this is on watersheds, and eventually the protection and the sustainability of these watersheds. The project and the specific funding by RBC is really to help us get things off the ground in terms of instrumentation and actual measurements that we can take during the course of a year in the watershed. Those measurements would include things like water levels, precipitation, and the way water moves through the watershed.

Geoffrey Hall, Associate Director of the Water Research Centre

One of the things that's important to me for -- even for recreation are -- is clean water. I'm a diver, I've been diving for a lot of years now. And it's really nice to go into an area that's clean, that's pristine, that you can see the underwater life as it should be, without a lot of pollution, without a lot of invasive species, and so forth. And part of maintaining that is maintaining a healthy watershed.

People use watersheds for recreation, but they also use them for making a living. Some people fish, some people use it for agriculture, for irrigation. And we really need to be protecting that, in order to create strong communities for the future. So I see it when I go out to have fun, to dive, to be in the water and so forth. But it's also part of what I do in my career.


One of the best things about the program is the field work that we get to do. So Queen's owns a couple of sites around Kingston. Each year the geology students get to go out, and they get to do some real life geology on the actual field sites. It's really valuable, because you can only learn so much in a class, especially in something like geology where it is field-based. So when the students come out here, then they get to try something new, and they get to really practice what they've learned in the classroom.

This is the Kennedy site, so it's owned by the Civil department. And what we're doing here is a bunch of hydrogeological work, so we're testing extreme flow rates, we're installing zometers, groundwater wells, we're monitoring seepage, and we're studying groundwater service water interactions, so lots of really interesting applied things.


Well a lot of geology that you do in the work field is based in the field, especially a young geologist -- a junior geologist. I've done this as a summer job, which is why I'm doing it today. And we do a lot of mapping within the department as well. We do a lot of field work actually, it's one of the greater aspects of this department, I think, one of our definite strengths. I love it.

Geoffrey Hall, Associate Director of the Water Research Centre

This grant is really going to be able to allow us to build a program that we wouldn't be able to do otherwise. It's a program we've been wanting to build for quite some time, and it's something that there is a demand for. But funding this kind of thing can be difficult, and this will really give us the building blocks to build on that program. It's a long-term project with RBC as a partner. It's going to be over 10 years, but it will allow us to put in the different pieces to build outreach programs, research programs themselves, and then educational opportunities for our students.

Kent Novakowski, Professor and Head, Department of Civil Engineering

I would like to thank RBC most profoundly for this opportunity. This grant is an enabling grant in terms of the ability to get out to people and educate them about watershed issues. And there are so many watershed issues that most people read about in their newspaper but don't really understand, and this gives us the opportunity to bring in the local school kids to learn about those issues in a real fashion. So RBC has made this available to us, there is no other way that we could in fact find money to do this kind of thing. This is a very, very unique opportunity, and we're very grateful to RBC for providing this.