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Research Support

DiverEngineering Services
Technical Operations Services
Current Activities
Contact information

Services are provided to Environment Canada research programs as well as to those of other government agencies, universities and external clients, both national and international. As a centralized support organization, Research Support ensures the most effective technologies and human resource capabilities are available to support present and future water research and monitoring projects. This group will continue to support research, to adapt and realign services to meet new and emerging priorities, and to incorporate new developments in its fields of expertise to serve clients effectively. The group is divided into two units:  Engineering Services and Technical Operations Services.

Engineering Services

Engineering Services (ES) ensure that the necessary equipment, facilities and technical expertise are available to support research studies requiring sampling and measurements in the aquatic environment or requiring physical laboratory facilities. Staff include engineers, technologists and machinists with expertise and experience in the design, fabrication, maintenance and operation of aquatic sensors and systems. As an integral part of the services offered, ES operates an accredited Calibration Laboratory, numerous physical testing/calibration facilities, hydraulics facilities, a large calibration tow tank and a small, well-equipped fabrication/machine shop complete with welding capability.

Technical Operations Services

Technical Operations Services (TOS) provide technical and logistical expertise for both shore-based and shipboard operations to support water research and surveillance programs, as well as those of other government agencies, universities, and external clients, both national and international. Field programs are supported throughout the whole of Canada, including the Arctic, and, increasingly, in other countries. Services include planning and management of field sampling programs, establishment and maintenance of field laboratory sites, provision and operation of equipment, data and sample collection from ships, launches and aircraft, including diving and groundwater drilling operations. TOS also coordinates, manages and carries out multidisciplinary scientific cruises aboard research vessels on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. TOS staff undertakes responsibility as Safety Officers on all field parties in which they participate, as well as providing safety information and equipment to personnel involved in field sampling activities.

Current activities:

  • Offer specialized calibration services for field instruments, for example, the operation of an ISO-17025 accredited calibration facility, to ensure measurement traceability to Canadian and international standards of data collected by systems and sensors deployed in scientific measurement studies. These services are also provided to universities, other government departments and to external clients, both national and international, on a cost-recovery basis.
  • Support hydraulic laboratory studies for private sector companies to assist in development of new products or methodologies in support of the environmental technology industry, e.g., companies involved in the development of water disinfectant technologies and consulting engineering firms requiring physical hydraulic modelling of flow structures. Such services are provided on a cost-recovery basis.
  • Provide technical and logistical support for the collection of data used in compiling continuing reports and long-term trend information on water quality and eutrophication parameters in the Great Lakes. This information is required for input to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Water Quality Board Annual Report to the International Joint Commission.
  • Provide technical and logistical support to studies on the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River for input to the Detroit River Remedial Action Plan, as well as support to other Remedial Action Plan programs in Cornwall and Hamilton Harbour. Technical and logistical support are provided to Areas of Concern studies such as Marathon, Thunder Bay and Wheatley. The work involves collection of physical, biological and chemical samples and measurements for input to the scientific studies of researchers.
  • Provide advice, expertise and equipment to conduct underwater operations, positioning and underwater video capability to scientific studies of Environment Canada and to other government agencies, universities and private sector clients through negotiated agreements.
  • Provide sampling and measurement equipment and methodology training, which results in technology transfer and capacity-building, to universities, international programs and the private sector: e.g., with McMaster, Guelph and Waterloo universities, and in partnership with the United Nations University, International Network on Water, Environment and Health (UNU/INWEH), to the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project (LVEMP) in Uganda, Africa.
  • Provide advice, expertise, equipment and technologist support to NWRI collaborative research: e.g., the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) study with the City of Toronto, the World Climate Research Program Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX), the University of Miami ASIS Buoy studies. This support is also provided to other external clients including Heritage Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Air Safety Board and Halton Region Emergency Response Group.


A fully equipped hydraulics lab including 1-m and 2-m tilting flumes, a large rotating flume, various large and small tanks, floor areas to model hydraulic structures and pipe flow configurations, as well as the capability to supply large volumes of fresh water to those facilities.

A calibration tow tank (100 m long, 3 m deep, 5 m wide) with a tow speed range from 0.5 to 600 cm/second. This tow tank is the calibration facility used as the calibration standard to calibrate all of the Water Survey of Canada flow meters and is used by other government departments and by the private sector to calibrate various systems, determine drag coefficients, etc.

A Calibration Laboratory accredited by NRC and CLAS for a number of parameters of interest to aquatic researchers.


An electronic and mechanical engineering design team with many years of experience in designing systems for use in the aquatic environment.

A prototype machine shop with an excellent capability to fabricate designs and fabricate/repair limnological measurement and sampling equipment.

Accredited instrument calibration services traceable to Canadian and international measurement standards for a number of physical parameters.

A fully equipped and experienced technical support group to undertake field operations for the deployment and recovery of limnological measurement and for deploying and operating water and sediment sampling systems.

A dive team capable of providing expertise in the collection of physical, chemical, biological and geological samples in both undisturbed and contaminated environments.

An underwater, remotely controlled vehicle equipped with 35-mm and video cameras for underwater inspections and underwater surveys.

The experience and capability to provide technical training in the proper use and care of aquatic measurement systems for the purposes of technical capacity building in aquatic research.

For further information, please contact:

Roland Desrosiers, A/Manager
Engineering Services
Canada Centre for Inland Waters
867 Lakeshore Road, P.O. Box 5050
Burlington, ON  L7R 4A6
tel.: (905) 336-4902
fax: (905) 336-4970

Steve Smith, A/Manager
Technical Operations Services
Canada Centre for Inland Waters
867 Lakeshore Road, P.O. Box 5050
Burlington, ON  L7R 4A6
tel.: (905) 336-4937
fax: (905) 336-6230

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