Background Information

History of the Institute

In 1991, the Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College (SSFC) began discussions regarding opportunities for collaborative research between the three institutions. In the fall of 1995 a formal partnership agreement was established to promote collaboration in watershed science initiatives.

After expansion of Trent University science facilities in 1997, an arrangement was made to relocate OMNR research staff to Trent's campus, facilitating interaction among OMNR and Trent staff, and filling gaps in expertise for both institutions.

On January 31st, 1997 a memorandum of agreement was signed to create the Watershed Science Centre with Trent University, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Sir Sandford Fleming College as the founding partners. This formal partnership recognized the opportunities to advance knowledge in the area of watershed science using the strengths of the partnered institutions. This includes the extensive GIS (Geographical Information Systems) and resource management expertise of Sir Sandford Fleming College and offers a wide range of training opportunities; Trent's strengths in watershed ecosystems science; and OMNR research, management and policy expertise.

It is the goal of this inter-disciplinary alliance of institutions to provide integrated scientific study, advice, technical services, policy development, training and science transfer related to all aspects of watershed management, including watershed ecosystem health, protection and rehabilitation.

In July 1998, Dr. Leon Carl, a research scientist with the OMNR, became the first director of the Watershed Science Centre. He held this position until October, 2002, when he was succeeded by Dr. Robert Metcalfe, Science Coordinator of OMNR's Waterpower Project (now the Renewable Energy Section). Dr. Chris Metcalfe took the position of Director of the Watershed Science Centre on July 1st, 2006.

In 2006, there were several changes to the mandate, scope and funding arrangements for the Watershed Science Centre. The Ontario Ministry of Environment (OMOE) was added as a full Partner within the Centre.

Formerly the Watershed Science Centre, the site officially became the Institute for Watershed Science on July 1st, 2007.

Mission and Mandate of the Institute

The Institute for Watershed Science is a unique inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional alliance for integrated science, facility sharing, expert consultation, management services, training and technology transfer on watershed ecosystem management, health, protection and rehabilitation. Clientele includes government agencies, educational institutions and private enterprise.

The Institute for Watershed Science works with project partners to develop programs that support their respective institutional mandates and priorities. The Institute for Watershed Science provides support to these partner organizations by forming collaborative relationships with faculty at Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College, and with other institutional partners in Canada and internationally. The Institute for Watershed Science maintains a core group of staff that provide administrative and research support to the partners. However, a key objective of the Institute for Watershed Science is to provide training opportunities for highly qualified personnel (i.e. graduate students, post-doctoral fellows). The Institute for Watershed Science will also look for opportunities to participate in outreach activities with Ontario municipalities and Conservation Authorities, and to aid in the dissemination of research information to the public.

The goal is to establish the Institute for Watershed Science as a recognized leader in the field of multidisciplinary watershed research in Ontario including the efficient transfer of knowledge to directly support watershed management decision-making in Ontario and beyond. In fulfilling its mandate, the Institute for Watershed Science will address the following critical issues:

  • land-use impacts on aquatic ecosystems and the development of sound protection/restoration methodologies and monitoring protocols;
  • the growing use and reliance on spatial data and associated analyses by watershed managers;
  • the greater need for applied scientific research to support water resource management decision-making in Ontario;
  • the need to address deficiencies in the transfer of current scientific knowledge and research to respond effectively to water resource issues specific to Ontario; and
  • the need to improve coordination between academia, government agencies, private sector and other stakeholders to address water resource issues.

Guiding Principles of the Institute

The Institute for Watershed Science strives to develop and participate in activities that promote the development, sharing and transfer of knowledge relating to the mandate of the Institute. In general, the Institute will continue to develop according to the following principles to ensure the Institute’s evolution into one of Canada’s leading institutes dedicated to excellence in development, integration, and application of watershed science:

  • a recognition that the study of watershed science requires collaboration between individuals and organizations with a variety of expertise and a commitment to facilitate collaborative projects between the partners of the Institute for Watershed Science, as well as other government agencies, academic institutions, municipalities, conservation authorities, industry, and other stakeholders;
  • a commitment to scientific excellence through peer reviewed research;
  • a commitment to the development and application of scientifically-credible tools and methods for watershed research and management;
  • a commitment to the effective use of resources for research and science transfer activities by maximizing efficiencies in equipment, facility, and data sharing between partners; 
  • a commitment to recruiting and training high quality personnel in watershed science and management; 
  • a commitment to the development of a collaborative, multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary research program that will continually develop its strengths while having the capacity to accommodate other emerging research needs as they arise; and
  • a commitment to continue to evolve as an inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional alliance for integrated watershed science and management that strengthens its collaborative focus beyond the three founding partners to include partnerships with other government agencies, academic institutions, industry and other non-government organizations.

Objectives of the Institute

The Institute for Watershed Science aims to further the understanding of physical and ecological processes that govern watershed function through integrated scientific analyses and to transfer this knowledge to support watershed management decision-making. In accordance with the guiding principles established for the Institute for Watershed Science, the mandate of the Institute for Watershed Science is achieved by meeting the following specific objectives:

  • to conduct peer-reviewed, multi-disciplinary scientific research to better understand watershed function, and related anthropogenic impacts;
  • to develop tools and methods for improved watershed management; and
  • to efficiently transfer watershed science knowledge and methods to resource management practitioners through publications, courses, workshops, and conferences.

The objectives of the Institute for Watershed Science will be realized through partnerships by:

  • utilizing expertise within the Institute for Watershed Science to lead a project in collaboration with a Partner;
  • facilitating projects by assisting Partners to acquire funding, collaborating in the project, and administering the project.