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Partnership for Water Sustainability Annual Workshop Series

BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: Module 1 – Fin Donnelly, founder of the Rivershed Society of BC will tell the story of his swims down the Fraser River and will “Connect the Drops” (November 28, 2017 in Richmond)


Fin Donnelly’s love affair with the Fraser River began more than two decades ago. As a young man, he was a marathon swimmer, crossing the Strait of Georgia several times. But it was his journey down the length of the Fraser River in 1995 that changed his life. It was a 1,400-kilometre swim, which he completed over 21 days. Following his epic swim, Donnelly and others formed the nonprofit Rivershed Society to promote public education about the Fraser River Basins.

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: Module 2 – Ted van der Gulik has a compelling story about “The Fraser River, Agriculture and Food Security” (November 28, 2017 in Richmond)


“Agriculture’s need for water will only increase as summers get longer, hotter and drier. The Ministry of Agriculture has developed a Water Demand Model that can determine agriculture’s water requirements today and in the future,” states Ted van der Gulik. “Climate change will raise sea levels and bring sea water farther up the Fraser River. This will limit the number of hours per year that fresh water is accessible for irrigation water supply in the Delta.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: Module 3 – Bob McDonald reflects on “Water from a Global Perspective & Beyond” (November 28, 2017 in Richmond)


Bob McDonald translates complex scientific information in a way that is both fascinating and easily understood by his audiences. “Water is THE issue of the 21st century, both around the world and even here in Canada where we have more water than anyone. As glaciers disappear and droughts become more frequent, it is vital, in every sense of the word to manage our most precious resource wisely,” states Bob McDonald.

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: Module 4 – Michael Blackstock presents the case for “An Attitude Switch” (November 28, 2017 in Richmond)


The journey to a water-resilient future starts with Western science acknowledging water for its central functional and spiritual roles in our world. “Attitude influences behavior,” states Michael Blackstock. “Blue Ecology is a new cross cultural approach which inspires a new attitude towards water.  There is good reason to have a strong belief in hope, instead of fear, while facing climate change.  The good news…it costs nothing to switch our corporate or personal attitude.” 

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BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: Program Preview – Partnership for Water Sustainability unveils the program for interweaving First Nations cultural knowledge and Western science (November 28, 2017 in Richmond)


“The program is visionary yet pragmatic. Bob McDonald, Fin Donnelly and Michael Blackstock are a powerful trio. The Blue Ecology theme, blending First Nations cultural knowledge and Western Science challenges us to be more inclusive when addressing watershed systems,” observes Eric Bonham. “If we can create a documentary out of the workshop that blends Michael’s central message with commentary from Bob and Fin we will have a powerful message indeed.”

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BLUE ECOLOGY: Planet Reconciliation – an article about how to enhance Western science’s knowledge of the water cycle for the benefit of hydrologists and water managers (published in Water Canada magazine, March-April 2017)


“There is hope for future generations. Success depends on embracing a water-first approach. What we are essentially talking about is RECONCILIATION: going back to the headwaters of where we got our relationships with water and with one another wrong; and then starting back down the river of time – this time together – with a full understanding of the importance of embracing a water-first approach to planning human interventions in the environment,” wrote Bob Sandford.

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FLASHBACK TO 2003: “Charting a New Course – A Vision for Integrated Water Management in British Columbia” (Okanagan launch event for Water Sustainability Action Plan)


The Blue Ecology workshop in 2017 is a natural evolution of the vision for integrated water management as shared at the 2003 focus group workshop that launched the Water Sustainability Action Plan. The approach in developing the Action Plan is grounded. “Successful initiatives inform provincial policy through the shared responsibility model,” stated Lynn Kriwoken.

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FLOWnGROW WORKSHOP: “We have many of the puzzle pieces needed to ensure a sustainable water future,” stated Steve Conrad


How we use our water is set by individual choices. Faced with various scenarios, residents will make decisions based on environmental and economic choices. “Moving forward, what we need to do is remember that putting puzzles together works best when you have many people looking at it from all angles.” His research interests include human behavior response to resource management policy.

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TESTIMONIAL: “Bob McDonald’s ability to translate complex scientific information is clearly a natural talent,” observed Eric Bonham at the conclusion of the FLOWnGROW workshop (Nov 2016)


Bob McDonald’s opening talk ‘Water from a Global Perspective and Beyond’ reminded the audience at the FLOWnGROW workshop, in no uncertain terms, that we all live on one fragile planet that demands our collective respect. He delivered an energizing and inspiring ‘call to action’. When Bob McDonald shared the first photograph of earth taken in 1972, showing that little ball we call home hurtling around in space, it put everything in perspective.

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FLOWnGROW WORKSHOP: “We can start back down the river of time – this time together – with a full understanding of the importance of embracing a water-first approach,” wrote Bob Sandford


Bob Sandford has a natural ability to ‘cut to the essence’ of issues. “This conference underscored the great benefit of focusing on the interweaving of western science and traditional teaching and local knowledge,” wrote Bob Sandford. “What we essentially talked about is reconciliation: going back to the headwaters of where we got our relationships with water and with one another wrong so that we can start back down the river of time.”

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