Salamander Foundation backs advances in environmental engineering

Western Engineering will continue to lead the charge in mitigating the effects of pollution on the environment and public health with today’s announcement of a $1-million donation from The Salamander Foundation.

This new endowed gift will be added to the existing endowed fund established by the donor in 1999 in support of The Salamander Chair in Environmental Engineering. The Chair oversees research activities in environmental engineering with a focus on water quality and processing, including wastewater, drinking water and source water contamination. This brings the total funds donated by The Salamander Foundation to $2.811 million.

The Foundation’s latest gift was matched by Western, boosting the existing Chair fund and creating an endowment of approximately $3.4 million. Each year, the endowment generates income to support research and activities of the Chair.

“At the time of our original donation, the Chair in Environmental Engineering could be established for $1 million, but over the past several years, it has become standard practice for most universities across Canada to commit $3 million to establish any Chair,” said Nan Shuttleworth, Founder and President of The Salamander Foundation. “The Salamander Board made the decision to augment the original endowment with an additional $1 million to ensure Western continues to provide national leadership in this area.”

The current holder of the Salamander Chair, George Nakhla, is a professor in the departments of Civil and Environmental and Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. His research focuses on municipal and industrial wastewater treatment, biological nutrient removal processes, soil and ground water bioremediation and detoxification of hazardous contaminants.

“Municipal and industrial wastewater can cause significant damage to the environment,” Nakhla said. “Disease-causing pathogens can make water unfit for human use, excess nutrients can overstimulate the growth of aquatic plants and decaying organic waste can threaten aquatic life. The Salamander Foundation’s support of this research has allowed us to make some significant advances and establish valuable partnerships with other researchers, government and industry.”

The Salamander Foundation is especially pleased that Western will be matching their contribution.

“It’s particularly satisfying to know Western is matching the Foundation’s additional $1-million donation. The resulting endowment will really give the Chair the strength it needs and support the extraordinary work being accomplished by Dr. Nakhla and his team in environmental engineering,” Shuttleworth said.