Sep 2015

“It is a key shared journey that watershed systems thinking and analysis must integrate water balance strategies with existing infrastructure strategies to visualise what a ‘resilient future’ would look like,” states Peter Coombes

“A history of top down management of water in Australia was challenged by drought. Concerned citizens called for implementation of bottom up strategies and inclusion in the decision making process. It was an emerging insight that there were no ‘silver bullet’ single solutions for water management. Both bottom-up and top-down approaches were needed. The local and small scale actions of citizens ensured that the majority of Australian cities did not exhaust urban water supplies. Citizens reduced water use by up to 50% using rainwater harvesting, water efficient appliances, reuse of greywater and changes in behaviour. The solutions dismissed as not viable helped save our cities,” states Peter Coombes.

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“Wetland Conservation in the Okanagan is a workshop for municipal and regional stakeholders,” states Neil Fletcher, Chair, Wetlands Stewardship Partnership

“Wetlands can provide a number of benefits to society, including: flood control, water treatment, and carbon storage. This workshop will explore gaps and opportunities on how we can protect and conserve wetlands and work towards healthier watersheds. Topics were selected to support key municipal and regional staff and lead conservation groups who are working in the Okanagan. In particular, the afternoon session on stormwater management will provide a more detailed look at one aspect of integrating wetlands into watershed planning,” stated Neil Fletcher.

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“Water does not know boundaries of politics or culture, but it does hold the memory and tell the story,” says Laurie Suitor, Senior Advisor to the Pitu’paq Partnership of Cape Breton, a unique collaboration of First Nations and local governments

“Formed in 2001, the Pitu’paq Partnership is a unique collaboration of Mi’kmaq and non-MI’kmaq communities in Cape Breton Island, forming ten communities in all, who meet once a month to address issues of mutual environmental concern. Originally brought together to work on sewage discharge issues into the Bras d’Or Lakes, a unique inland sea, the Pitu’paq Partnership has evolved to adopt ten sustainability principles that change how we think about broader environmental issues,” states Laurie Suitor. ““The Pitu’paq Partnership learned early that in order to make good decisions about water, it needed to think like water. Water does not know boundaries of politics or culture.”

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“The drought of 2015 suggests we may be crossing an invisible threshold into a different hydro-meteorological regime in Western North America. This would have huge consequences for water security,” observes Bob Sandford, keynote presenter for the Feast AND Famine Workshop and author of Storm Warning: Water & Climate Security in a Changing Canada

The ‘new normal’ in British Columbia is floods and droughts. The summer dry season has extended on both ends and we can no longer count on a predictable snowpack and reliable rain to maintain a healthy water balance in our watersheds. “After a period of relative hydro-climatic stability, changes in the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere have resulted in the acceleration of the global hydrologic cycle with huge implications for every region of the world and every sector of the global economy,” states Bob Sandford. “We can expect deeper, more persistent drought punctuated by flooding. We expect this trend to continue. We also expect the trend toward extremes to continue.”

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