“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,” stated Bob Sandford, water champion & author, at FLOWnGROW workshop (November 2016)

Note to Reader:

In November 2016, the Partnership for Water Sustainability, Irrigation Industry Association and Okanagan Basin Water Board joined forces to convene the FLOWnGROW Workshop


FLOWnGROW – Balancing
Economy, Ecology and Settlement in the Okanagan

Commencing in 2013, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC has collaborated with the Irrigation Industry Association of BC (IIABC) to co-host an annual year-end workshop.

The FLOWnGROW workshop was about HOW to respect ecosystem and cultural values, ensure food security and build water-resilient communities.

An all-star team of presenters was headlined by CBC’s Bob McDonald, host of Quirks & Quarks. FLOWnGROW had two keynote speakers! The second was Bob Sandford, author and water champion.

To Learn More:

Visit the homepage for the FLOWnGROW workshop to read a comprehensive set of articles:


Download Flow and Grow! – Balancing Economy, Ecology and Settlement in the Okanagan to read the Program Overview.

Bob Sandford speaking at FLOWnGROW

Bob Sandford speaking at FLOWnGROW

Embrace a Water-First Approach

“This conference underscored the great benefit of focusing on the interweaving of western science and traditional teaching and local knowledge,” wrote Bob Sandford when asked to provide his reflections on a defining takeaway message from the workshop.

bob-sandford_dsc_0113_120p“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 – this time together – with a full understanding of the importance of embracing a water-first approach to planning human interventions in the environment.”

Follow the Water

“So where do we go now?”

“The first thing people often think when confronted by this question is: I am just one person, what can one person do?”

“The first thing one person can do is stop being one person. If we look around we are not alone, in our knowledge, our concerns or our principles.”

“If we are to be successful in retreating from the brink of climate catastrophe, we need to get a better handle on how even non-tipping points in climate and other parts of the Earth system might cause truly abrupt tipping points in our social and political systems.”

“We need to better understand the “critical thresholds” that exist within our water and water-related climate systems and better connect them to associated social, economic, public health and political risks and tipping points.”

“We need to do that now,” concluded Bob Sandford.

To Learn More:

Download Keeping on Track: Risk & Uncertainty at the Nexus of Water, Food and Biodiversity to view a PDF copy (6 MB) of the PowerPoint presentation by Bob Sandford.

Click on Keeping on Track: Risk & Uncertainty at the Nexus of Water, Food and Biodiversity — a call to action by Bob Sandford, water champion & author, at FLOWnGROW workshop (November 2016) to read the transcript that accompanies the PowerPoint storyline.

Watch the video of Bob Sandford’s closing reflections on what he saw as an important takeaway from the workshop:

Further Reflections on the “Inclusive Journey”

“Bob Sandford has provided an excellent summary statement of the workshop,” comments Eric Bonham, a founding member of the Partnership. A former Director in two provincial government ministries, he continues to play an active role in contributing his wisdom to the Partnership’s Leadership Team.

“Bob Sandford has a natural ability to ‘cut to the essence’ of issues as demonstrated by his quote (above). Yes, I agree we need to take the ‘Inclusive Journey’, this time totally integrating ‘Science and Spirit’ along the way – that is, assuming we hav1eric-bonham_trimmed1e the luxury of time.”

“We thank Bob for bringing his knowledge and wisdom to the workshop. As always, his message is well-founded on solid research; and delivered with sincere passion on the future of water.”

“Bob Sandford’s counsel that we continue to work with like-minded people rings true more urgently than ever.”

“It remains a mystery and ‘blind spot’ for we humans that, water being the the very essence of life on earth to even exist, is still treated with such indifference and waste in many areas, rather than for the sacred value and primary focus it warrants.

“This message was captured well by Michael Blackstock in his Blue Ecology presentation,” concludes Eric Bonham.