Better protection of groundwater supplies around the globe is the focus of a new $10-million gift to the University of Guelph’s G360 Institute.
The donation by long-time U of G benefactor Edward (Ted) Morwick is intended to support significant advancements in infrastructure, innovation, research and training.
About 2.5 billion people worldwide depend solely on groundwater for basic needs, and groundwater supports 40 per cent of global agriculture through irrigation. Population growth, climate change and pollution are causing groundwater shortages. As the population continues to grow, groundwater will become even more essential for human well-being.
The G360 Institute studies groundwater and surface water interaction using novel field methods, focusing on fractured bedrock systems to ensure safe and sustainable supplies.
The institute brings together more than 20 collaborating institutions across five continents to advance knowledge, professional practice and policy in groundwater resource stewardship through field-based research.
In recognition of Morwick’s transformative gift, the institute will be renamed as the Morwick G360 Groundwater Research Institute.
“Through this generous gift, the University will be able to better support faculty and students in their pursuit of finding solutions for one of the world’s most pressing challenges,” said U of G president Dr. Charlotte Yates. “Mr. Morwick has been a long-time friend and supporter of the University of Guelph. This gift demonstrates his deep commitment to both the future of our planet and to the University’s mission to Improve Life.”
An honorary U of G graduate, lawyer, cattle breeder and published author, Morwick has contributed to the University since 2010 through scholarships in arts, creative writing, aquatic biology and water resource engineering. These awards have supported more than 40 students to date.
From this new gift, $4 million will support renovations and capital improvements to the Bedrock Aquifer Field Facility, which will be renamed the Morwick Groundwater Research Centre.
“The building will be for research and education and will help in advancing technology as it relates to groundwater,” said Morwick. “I am hopeful it will play a very significant role in protecting our global freshwater supplies.”
Three million will be used to create the Morwick Chair in Sustainable Groundwater Research. This new endowed chair position will be held by institute founder Dr. Beth Parker, a professor in the School of Engineering and holder of an NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Fractured Rock Hydrogeology. Parker will oversee the innovation fund, which will receive $1 million under the Morwick gift.
“Through international field-based research, this institute is leading the way in providing the knowledge and innovations needed to protect our world’s vulnerable groundwater supply,” said Dr. Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research). “This remarkable gift will enable our world-class institute to make even greater strides toward preserving this vital resource that is relied upon for the health of humanity and ecosystems.”
As part of the gift, the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the College of Biological Science will each receive $1 million for summer student research assistantships in water and climate change research.
Established in 2007, the G360 Institute involves 14 principal investigators and employs more than 50 people including post-docs, research staff, graduate students, visiting scientists and technicians. They conduct research at numerous Canadian and international field sites and maintain strong collaborations with projects around the globe. For two decades, Parker’s team has conducted state-of-the-art research on the bedrock aquifer in Guelph, the largest urban area in Canada to rely on a bedrock aquifer for its water supply.
“This gift is going to propel groundwater forward as a major research thrust at the University of Guelph,” said Parker. “It will attract students and create a wealth of groundwater professional expertise that is going to serve Canada well into the future.”