Research Projects by ESRC Members

Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC)




Research Projects by ESRC Members

Title: First Nations and Source Waters: Understanding Vulnerabilities and Building Capacity for Governance
Project Team: R. Plummer, D. Armitage, R. de Loë, D. de Grosbois
Funder:
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Description: Access and rights to water are fundamental issues for First Nations peoples of Canada. This research moves away from conventional approaches to water management and aims to enhance source water governance in First Nation communities. Key objectives of this research are to: 1) develop a culturally-sensitive vulnerability assessment tool and appraise the social and ecological dimensions of vulnerability relating to source waters; 2) examine how source water concerns are being addressed; 3) identify key factors to improve source water protection and build capacity for adaptation; and, 4) enhance source water governance though the development and dissemination of culturally appropriate, practice-based materials and the implementation of training opportunities. The research is being undertaken in partnership with Mississaugas of the New Credit, Oneida of the Thames, and Six Nations of the Grand River. The Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources and the Six Nations Eco-Centre are additional partners assisting with knowledge mobilization. 

 
Title: From ‘Dam and Divert’ to ‘Cap and Trade’: Water Policy Reform in Irrigation Economies
Project Team: Tim Heinmiller
Funder: SSHRC
Description: This project examines irrigation economies in western Canada, southeastern Australia, and the western United States. It documents the transition, over the last few decades, from water policies that were based on a ‘dam and divert’ logic to new water policies based on ‘cap and trade’. It seeks to explain this substantial policy reform through an application of the advocacy coalition framework.
 
Title: Governance for Watershed-Based Source Water Protection in Canada: A National Evaluation
Project Team: R. de Loë, S. Michaels, R. Plummer, H. Bjornlund, J. Sinclair, K. Bakker, N. Watson, K. Klein, D. Rudolph
Funder: Canadian Water Network
 
Title: Modeling Household water and energy retrofit decision-making
Project Team: Steven Renzetti and Diane Dupont
Funder: Canadian Water Network
Description: Many government agencies are attempting to encourage households to make ‘green’ decisions such as install low-flow toilets and programmable thermostats and change their consumption and waste-production habits. A major constraint in the development of efficacious policies, however, is the lack of knowledge regarding the households’ awareness of and sensitivity to policy instruments such as water and electricity prices.
This research begins to fill this information gap by investigating the factors influencing households’ decision-making regarding water and energy use as well as their investments in water and energy-conserving appliances. Specifically, we investigate the role of both the level and the structure of water prices, as well as electricity prices and socio-demographic characteristics on households’ decision-making regarding changing their practices and their stock of water and energy-using capital and appliances. This is the one of the first analyses of household decision-making of this sort carried out using Canadian household-level observations.
In order to characterize household decision-making, single and bivariate probit models are estimated. The estimation is conducted by combining cross sectional household-level from Statistics Canada’s 2006 Households and the Environment Survey (HES) with observations on residential water and electricity prices collected by the authors. The HES provides approximately 28,000 household-level observations on water and energy retrofits and recycling behaviour. Initial estimation results indicate that market prices and household characteristics play important roles in shaping household decision-making regarding water and energy conservation.
 
Title: Modeling Industrial Water Recirculation Decisions
Project Team: Steven Renzetti and Joel Bruneau (University of Saskatchewan)
Funder: Canadian Water Network and SSHRC
Description: Relatively little is known about the factors which influence firms’ water recirculation decisions. This project estimates an econometric model that jointly considers two facets of firms’ recirculation behaviour: first, the discrete decision of whether to recirculate and, second, the decision of how much to recirculate. The model is estimated by applying the Heckman two-stage estimation procedure to cross-sectional data from Environment Canada’s 1996 Industrial Water Use Survey. In the first stage, long run factors such as relative water scarcity and production technologies have been found to influence the decision whether to recirculate water. In the second stage, the imputed prices of intake water and water recirculation as well as the scale of operations have found to influence the choice of the optimal quantity of water to recirculate.
We are continuing to work on this project by developing more sophisticated models that seek to explain why some firms are observed to recirculate in some time periods but not in others.
 
Title: More Value from the Same Water: Maximizing Water’s Sustainable Contribution to the Canadian Economy
Project Team: Diane Dupont (Brock U), Steven Renzetti (Brock U), Henning Bjornlund (U Lethbridge) and Chandra Madramootoo (McGill University)
Funder: Canadian Water Network
Description: Maximization of value from scarce resources results from allocations through well- functioning markets. Maximization of value from water resources in Canada is hampered by out-dated municipal and provincial regulations governing pricing and allocation of water. Provincial governments issue water use permits with little evidence of the value of proposed use; permit pricing has nothing to do with water’s scarcity value. Municipal water pricing remains divorced from the value of water and the marginal costs of supply. The result is over‐expanded systems, over‐use of water; reliance on ad hoc measures to curb water use in times of shortage and insufficient funds for infrastructure improvements. This is changing slowly. Some provinces have raised water permit fees; some municipalities have adopted increasing block rates. The common theme is recognition of water as an economic resource and the willingness to use economic instruments (prices and tradable permits) to promote efficient use. To date, these initiatives have not been coordinated across levels of government and are constrained by the lack of data, models, trained personnel, and institutional capacity. The problem is compounded by the inability of current regulations to deal with competing water demands and the possibility of climate change-induced reductions in supplies. Misallocation of water ultimately threatens aquatic ecosystems and reduces the well-being of current and future Canadians.
Further Information: website (if applicable) can be added here. http://www.brocku.ca/social-sciences/research/canadian-water-economics
 
Title: Niagara Climate Change Project
Project Team:   R. Plummer, B. May, K. Pickering, S. Purdy
Funder: Environment Canada & Brock University
Description: Bringing key stakeholders from all sectors in Niagara together to work collaboratively on ways for Niagara to adapt to present and future climate change.
Adaptive Collaborative Risk Management and Climate Change in the Niagara Region:
A Participatory Integrated Assessment Approach for Sustainable Solutions and Transformative Change
Further Information: See www.cccln.ca
 
Title: Using Google Earth to Visualize the Historic Welland Canals
Project Team: Brock University Map Library
Funder: none
Description: Building on Niagara Region’s GIS dataof canal paths and points of interest, a visualization tool is being created that merges old documents with new technology. A combination of historic air photos, maps, and photos held in Brock’s collection utilizes Google Earth to provide an interactive tool for exploring the historic canals.
Further Information: Website forthcoming.
 
Title: Water Regulations: Impact on First Nations Health Equity and Promotion
Team: Cheryl Waldner (U Saskatchewan), Lalita Bharadwaj (U Saskatchewan), Tasha Epp (U Saskatchewan), Wolfgang Koster (U Saskatchewan), Robert Patrick (U Saskatchewan), Pammla Petruka (U Saskatchewan), and Diane Dupont (Brock U)
Funder: Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Description: The provision of safe drinking water is a key driver of public health and is one of the most pressing health issues facing First Nations communities in Canada. On May 26,2010, the Federal Government introduced Bill S-11, also known as the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act. While legislation to provide for regulations to govern drinking water and waste water treatment in First Nations communities appears to be a step forward, imposing regulations without providing adequate training and resources to meet regulatory requirements places at risk the safety of drinking water, the promotion of health, and health equity in First Nations communities. This project will develop baseline information on important issues related to drinking water access and safety in First Nations communities. These baseline data will be used to provide essential information to guide the development of First Nations water regulation, to evaluate the potential effectiveness and the need for implementation of Bill S-11, and ultimately the promotion of health equity for members of First Nations communities.