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Natural Infrastructure for Water Solutions (NIWS)

Taking natural infrastructure from novel to normal.


​Natural Infrastructure for Water Solutions (NIWS) is scaling up natural infrastructure on Canada's Prairies—for cleaner water and more resilient communities. Natural infrastructure allows us to plan and work with nature to help meet infrastructure needs. NIWS hopes to take the idea of natural infrastructure from novel to normal, championing water infrastructure solutions in rural communities, cities, and government planning processes.

Working alongside stakeholders and champions from many sectors, we are:

  • Making the business case for natural infrastructure, by demonstrating how impactful and cost-effective it can be
  • Encouraging local municipalities to adopt more natural infrastructure projects
  • Enabling access to funding for those who want to implement natural infrastructure
  • Making sure that natural infrastructure is supported and championed by all levels of government.

The natural infrastructure sector contributes billions to the Prairie-wide economy and creates jobs. Our latest REPORT shows the estimated direct contribution to the GDP of the Canadian Prairies was CAD 4.1 billion in 2022. It's also estimated the sector directly employed over 33,000 people in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. We need greater investment in this sector, which is required to treat and supply clean, fresh water to the millions who live on Canada's Prairies.

Why Natural Infrastructure?

Natural infrastructure is a way to plan and work with nature to meet our infrastructure needs.

In communities across the prairies, you probably have seen stormwater ponds in neighbourhoods, rain gardens, or green roofs—just a few examples of natural infrastructure. Preserved ecosystems such as wetlands (both natural and designed), restored ecosystems, like a replanted riparian area, or even a nature-based engineered feature, all provide water benefits and are natural infrastructure.

Natural infrastructure can provide specific infrastructure benefits, with the potential for many other social, economic, and environmental benefits. There is increasing evidence that natural infrastructure can deliver much-needed water outcomes cost efficiently while also providing areas for recreation, habitat to support wildlife, and improving the overall resilience of our communities.


Funded in part by:

BHP Foundation