World Water Day at UBC-Okanagan: Panel Discussion on Water Challenges and Solutions



Note to Reader:

UBC Okanagan University celebrated World Water Day on March 22. Click on this link to download the World Water Day Poster which provides the Schedule of Events, which included a Panel Discussion.


UBC-O world water day: the panel


The Panel  

Each of four panellists gave a 10-15 minute talk followed by a 5-10 minute question/discussion period. The final 20 minutes of the panel discussion was also devoted to questions and discussion. The panellists, in this order, were:

  • Dr. Jeff Curtis, a  professor in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Program at UBC Okanagan
  • Neal Klassen, Director of the City of Kelowna’s Water Smart Program
  • Deana Machin, a fisheries biologist with Okanagan Nation Alliance
  • Greg Armour, Program Manager for the Okanagan Basin Water Board.


Presentation Highlights

Dr. Curtis posed this question to the audience to provide context for the panel discussion: “How long until we run out of water in the Okanagan during a drought year?” He then proceeded to illustrate the inevitability of a collision course by means of the graph below. His key message was that the time horizon is relatively short.

In his presentation, Neal Klassen elaborated on the innovative approach that the City of Kelowna has adopted in doing one-on-one education with water users.Over the past decade, the City has reduced peak water demand by 20%. The City is now implementing the “12 by 12 Challenge” – that is, reduce demand by another 12% by the Year 2012. The incentive to do things differently was the City’s desire to avoid $48 million in capital expenditures for system expansion to supply peak demand.

In her presentation, Deana Machin described how the fisheries resource of the Okanagan has been devastated over the past century to the point where there are few species remaining, and those are declining.

A key message in the presentation by Greg Armour was that Okanagan residents have to think about what they want the region to look like in 50 years, and then work backwards to implement the steps that will be needed to make the desired future happen.


To Learn More:

To read a newspaper article published in the Kelowna Capital News about the Panel Discussion, click on  Plea made to better respect nature