Too Much Water and Too Little Water: How Do We Adapt to Climate Change?


In 2006, the Adaptation and Impacts Research Division (AIRD) of Environment Canada and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES)  sponsored a seminar series exploring climate change and sustainable development.  The last in the series was presented by Dr. Hans Schreier.

According to Dr. Schreier, “Climate change is resulting in increased variability and since we are unable to slow down the change in the short run we need to use new innovative measures to manage water resources. We are anticipating significant changes in the rainfall/runoff processes resulting in dramatic changes in the stream hydrological regime.”

Dr. Schreier provides context as follows: “How do we adapt to these new conditions requires a rethinking of how we build infrastructure and how we consume and use water.”  A wide range of adaptive measures are available ranging from conservation, to source water protection, to integrated watershed management.”

The presentation highlighted some of the changes that are needed in managing the urban and agricultural environment. Effective management of green water, detaining and harvesting rainwater, minimizing impervious surfaces, creating constructed wetlands and protecting streams, are some of the effective adaptive measures that were  featured.

“Conservation measure in the urban and agricultural areas are likely the most effective ways to reduce the water footprint”, concluded Dr. Schreier, ” and this will give us time to change land use practices to be able to redistribute water for people and for the environment.”

The Institute for Resources, the Environment and Sustainability (IRES) is both an interdisciplinary research institute and a major interdisciplinary graduate education program at the University of British Columbia. It is the mission of IRES to work to foster sustainable futures through integrated research and learning about the linkages among human and natural systems, to support decision making for local to global scales.

To view the presentation, please click on Watershed Protection from the Top to the Bottom


Posted November 2006