Kathleen completed her master’s studies with Dr. Beth Parker in Water Resources Engineering in September 2020. Kathleen’s research focused on understanding the flow and fate of contaminants in groundwater, the water in underground spaces between soil, sand, and rock.
Research Interests and Future Goals
Growing up in the small community of Embro, Ontario, Kathleen Johnson became particularly interested in groundwater because of the community’s heavy reliance on it in their everyday lives. Groundwater research is a relatively new field, only having gained interest from the scientific community in the past 40 years. People are now recognizing that groundwater must be protected like other sources and researchers are interested in developing better, more sustainable approaches to groundwater management to ensure it is preserved. As part of the Morwick G360 Groundwater Research Institute team, Kathleen worked to understand how water flows through the unique fractured bedrock aquifer that supplies water to the City of Guelph. Guelph is one of the largest cities in Canada to rely solely on groundwater for its drinking water, supplying water to over 130 000 people’s homes, and industries and institutions, like schools and food processing plants. Using novel techniques developed by the G360 team, Kathleen’s research involved analyzing one drinking water well in Guelph to better understand how the aquifer is affected by contamination. This research will influence policy and decision making to improve water quality now and in the future. The importance of this type of groundwater research was identified from policy changes after the E. coli outbreak tragedy in Walkerton, Ontario in 2000 which resulted in more than 2,000 cases of gastroenteritis and 6 deaths. On a career level, Kathleen’s main goal is to influence industry decision making and community outreach to shape water policy in Ontario, especially for rural water well owners and Indigenous communities.
Why Arrell Food Institute
Kathleen recognized the Arrell Food Institute for providing her with exceptional learning experiences and opportunities which allowed her to pursue her passion for improving water and food systems. Kathleen graduated with a MASc in Water Resources Engineering in 2020 and is currently working as an Environmental Services Engineer with the City of London. She helps deliver infrastructure projects to provide safe drinking water to London’s over 400,000 residents and businesses (including London’s thriving agri-food sector).