Research impact: New water management tools for small communities

In rural Newfoundland and Labrador, watersheds are important not only to local drinking water but also for industrial and commercial activities. Maintaining the health of watersheds, as well as good water policies, practices, and infrastructure, is vital. But how can smaller communities manage their watersheds effectively?

In partnership with Procom Data Services, a Mitacs Accelerate intern from the Department of Geography at the Memorial University of Newfoundland investigated new water management tools for smaller communities.

What is this research about?

In rural Newfoundland and Labrador, watersheds are very important sources of drinking water and support both industrial and commercial activities. Healthy watersheds require good water policies, practices, and infrastructure.

This research studies the drinking water systems of three small, rural communities with populations under 1,000. This was done to better understand how these small communities manage and plan their drinking water systems.

This research also studies how another small community with a population above 1,000 used TownSuite Mapping LITE to manage data on their drinking water system infrastructure.

What did the researcher do?

The researchers performed a preliminary literature review to create an interview guide for communities of less than 1,000. They then held semi-structured interviews and observed participants in three communities of less than 1,000 in rural Newfoundland and Labrador (Greenspond, Old Perlican, and Sunnyside).

The researchers used semi-structured interviews and participant observation to understand how the Town of Centreville-Wareham-Trinity (CWT) uses TownSuite Municipal Software to manage their drinking water system infrastructure data. The interview guide for these interviews was developed by the researchers and the industry partner.

What did the researcher find?

The researchers wrote three reports detailing the drinking water systems in three communities with populations of less than 1,000. These included key themes around source water quality and quantity; infrastructure and operations; policy and governance; and resident perceptions, awareness, and practice.

The researchers also wrote a report on CWT’s use of TownSuite Mapping LITE. This report highlighted the priorities of the community before using the software, and the researcher’s experience with the software. The reports also shows how the software can be used for future planning and water infrastructure management.

How can you use this research?

This research may be used to inform policy and to increase knowledge mobilization efforts. This research enabled the creation of a residential drinking survey for one of the communities. This survey will help this community to better understand resident perceptions and practices for drinking water. This survey may also help the community make more informed decisions about their drinking water system.

This research was also useful for Procom Data Services Inc., as it provided insights on how CWT uses their software and helps promote its product.

About the Researchers

This research was supported by the Mitacs Accelerate program.

Jen Daniels is a master’s candidate in the Department of Geography at The Memorial University of Newfoundland. Kelly Vodden is an Associate Professor at the Environmental Policy Institute at the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Grenfell Campus. Sarah Hobbs is the Director of Sales and Marketing for TownSuite Municipal Software at Procom Data Services Inc.

In partnership with ResearchImpact, we are looking at outcomes from Mitacs Accelerate internships. ResearchImpact is a pan-Canadian network of 11 universities committed to maximizing the impact of academic research for the social, economic, environmental, and health benefits of Canadians. Both Mitacs and ResearchImpact are committed to illustrating that research has the potential to positively impact every aspect of life. 


Mitacs empowers Canadian innovation through effective partnerships that deliver solutions to our most pressing problems. By driving economic growth and productivity, we create meaningful change to improve quality of life for all Canadians.