A group of researchers  University of Windsor has received nearly $7 million to find ways to improve and preserve the health of the Great Lakes.

Conservative Essex MP Jeff Watson and Liberal Windsor West MPP Teresa Piruzza MPP made the announcement Friday.

The Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research will receive the funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, and the University of Windsor.

Funding will be used primarily for the purchase of state-of-the-art scientific equipment to be used by GLIER researchers.

"The Great Lakes are internationally important," said GLIER Director Dan Heath. "They hold 80 per cent of North America’s fresh water and are critical to Canada’s economic and social well-being in such key areas as transportation, energy, potable water, recreation and food. To effectively manage them we must address environmental stressors by assessing, analyzing and finding ways to remediate the problems they’re facing."

University of Windsor vice president of research, Michael Siu, said the funding will enable GLIER to examine critical issues of Great Lakes health from a variety of perspectives. It will also open opportunities for collaboration across disciplines.

"This will foster partnerships among researchers and students working on alleviating stressor effects and allow researchers from areas across campus to collaborate with GLIER on a wide variety of issues."

The funding will help researchers expand their expertise in three areas:

  • Biogeochemical function analysis, which will provide a better understanding of metals, sediments, and micro-organismal systems and more in-depth knowledge about potentially harmful contaminants and microbes in lake sediments and coming from such sources as sewage and agricultural waste.
  • Environmental genomics and proteomics, which will provide technology to assess responses to disturbances in aquatic ecosystems originating from, among others things, climate change, pollution and invasive species.
  • Ecological tracers, which will provide a broader knowledge of overall lake health through a better understanding of interactions among organisms, critical for the understanding of ecosystems and health.