Another Drop Lecture Series

About the Series

Started in 2006, the Another Drop Lecture Series provides an opportunity to present research, policy, and case studies that aid in our understanding of linkages between water, environment, and health. The purpose is to provide the local academic and broader community with an insight into the many and varied challenges faced around the world. The lectures are held monthly on a Tuesday evening at 7:00 pm, September through March. Speakers tend to be recruited from local universities or Toronto-based NGOs.

Past Lectures
Ohneganos Ohnegahdę:gyo- Water is Life

Tuesday February 11, 2020
Speaker: Dr Dawn Martin Hill

From the perspective of the traditional Haudenosaunee, we speak in terms of responsibilities with respect to water, not in terms of water rights. From time immemorial, we have held the view that the “law of the land” is not man-made law, but a greater natural law, the Great Law of Peace ….the root words for “rain” in Mohawk means expensive, or precious or holy. Culturally, we would not abuse this resource (King, 2007).

Indigenous populations in Canada are particularly vulnerable to climate change and water security issues. First Nations communities’ water supplies are in crisis over lack of access to water quality and quantity. Inadequate infrastructure increases the health burden in these communities. Water crisis is widely experienced in Indigenous communities due to the colonial policies which neglected implementing infrastructure on First Nations reserved lands, as compared to the rest of Canada. In 2007, The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the General Assembly and affirmed: Recognizing that respect for indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices contributes to sustainable and equitable development and proper management of the environment. This requires a holistic integrated community led approach of water research, capacity building and support, which are needed for a range of water-related topics of governance, health and capacity development, including development of Indigenous sustainability. Dr. Dawn Martin Hill will provide an overview of the Global Water Futures projects that she leads; Co-creation of Indigenous water quality tools and Ohneganos: Indigenous Ecological Knowledge, Training & Co-Creation of Mixed Method Tools. Ohneganos is a Global Water Futures (GWF) funded project that works with two communities, Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario, and Lubicon Lake Band of Little Buffalo in northern Alberta, addressing issues of water security, water sovereignty, and environmental health solutions on First Nations reserves. Educational and wellness tools developed in this project for indigenous youth will be discussed and demonstrated. Globally, local and Indigenous knowledge has been shown to strengthen socioecological community resilience within the multiple stressors of global environmental changes and encourages bilingual texts/resources to build communities’ capacity to monitor future water and environmental challenges. Her specific research interests in traditional knowledge naturally highlights solutions in improving quality of life through attention to gender, governance and well-being related to water quality.

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Transboundary Water Quality Management: The Role and Function of the International Joint Commission

Tuesday, 14 January 2020, 7:00 PM
Speaker: Mr Matthew Child

Management of the transboundary water resource shared by Canada and the United States is guided by some of the most highly evolved arrangements anywhere in the world. Backstopped by the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty, restoration and maintenance of Great Lakes water quality is being advanced through the 2012 Protocol to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (the Agreement). This presentation will highlight the context of transboundary water quality management in the Great Lakes, and describe the role and function of the International Joint Commission and its advisory boards in supporting and assessing progress towards the objectives of the Agreement.

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Thinking Like a Watershed

Tuesday, 26 November 2019, 7:00 PM
Speaker: Dr Chris McLaughlin

This presentation is a reflection on how we think about how the world works. Especially in the context of the restoration of Hamilton Harbour. The title is a play on renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold’s Thinking Like a Mountain, his confessional essay on traditional approaches to how we ‘manage’ the natural world. Ecosystems such as Hamilton Harbour and its rivers and marshes have a built-in capacity for resilience, an antidote to abuse and upheaval. But resilience is undermined by those traditional approaches. Leopold captured the essence of this problem: we too often fail to perceive how systems are connected and how they behave. Learning new approaches is an essential response to the emerging threats of climate and other changes affecting our ability to ‘bring back the Bay.’ This presentation samples similar ideas of original thinkers like Leopold, and suggests how we can meet this challenge by ‘thinking like a watershed.’


Urban-Induced Hydromodification

Tuesday, 8 October 2019, 7:00 PM
Speaker: Dr Dilnesaw Chekol

Urbanization, in general, increases impervious cover in a watershed. When impervious cover is increased, precipitation does not infiltrate as it would naturally. Instead, rainfall is quickly piped and channeled directly to the watercourse. The impacts of increases to impervious cover are evident when comparing stream hydrographs. Rural areas show a gradual response to rainfall, as well as typically having a lower peak flow and extended falling limb. Changes in hydrology as a result of urban development can impact the amount and quality of water reaching a natural feature, as well as the location of different flow paths. Increase in surface runoff from the urbanized areas can result in flooding and erosive damage to our streams and structures such as public and private property. In addition, human activity produces pollution, which in combination with the increased runoff can degrade the quality of our water resources. Practice of managing urban runoff is continuing to evolve as the science of watershed management and understanding of our watersheds grow. Effective management of urban runoff is critical to the continued health of our streams, rivers, lakes, fisheries and terrestrial habitats.

Toronto & Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), as a watershed management agency, develops stormwater management criteria, provides guidance in the planning and design of stormwater management infrastructure for developers, consultants, municipalities, and landowners, and outlines the processes and infrastructure needed to address flooding, water quality, erosion, water balance, and natural heritage. This presentation will discuss about TRCA’s stormwater and floodplain management applied within its nine watersheds.Read here

Why Almost Everything (Including Progress on Water and Sanitation) is Better Than We Think it is

Tuesday, 10 September 2o19, 7:00 PM
Speaker: Dr Colin Mayfield

In an era of seemingly constant bad news and predictions of imminent or future disastrous outcomes for humanity, it is necessary to step back and look at the dramatic improvements in almost everything that have happened during our history. Using United Nations and other sources of data, such a perspective shows immense improvements in the economy, life expectancy, birth rates, population growth, child and maternal deaths, infectious diseases and health, nutrition and food safety, the environment, accidental deaths and general safety and happiness (in many, but not all, countries). After a general survey of these improvements, the state of water and sanitation around the world will be examined.

There are obvious problems still to be dealt with, but a historical perspective gives grounds for a cautious optimism. This pessimism is not new. A 19th century politician summarized it well when he said that “We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all before us, and with just as much apparent reason…….. on what principle is it then, that we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?” Thomas Macaulay, (1830) English politician and author (History of England) 1800 to 1859.

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Flash Flood Events, Their Prediction, and the Future

Flash flooding events occur when large amounts of accumulating rainfall exceed the capacity, natural or otherwise, for surface water to be removed. Highly urbanized areas, given their lack of permeable surfaces and constrained drainage, are often most at risk from flash flooding events. Prediction of such events is challenging, particularly when small-scale weather features have an oversized impact – causing thunderstorms to generate copious amounts of accumulating rainfall even when large-scale conditions seem marginally conducive at best. There are also indications that flash flooding events are on the increase across Canada due to anthropogenic climate change.

This lecture will focus on the details of one particular event – the 2013 ‘billion dollar’ flash flood in Toronto – to illustrate the characteristics of a modern, urban flash flooding event and the challenges for weather forecasting. The future of flash flood prediction given new and emerging knowledge and technologies will also be discussed.

For more information, view the event here.

Communicating Water Issues Using Film and Television

The creators and hosts of the TVO series The Water Brothers, Alex and Tyler Mifflin, share stories and learning lessons from their adventures documenting some of the most pressing environmental issues in the world today. With the health of freshwater and ocean ecosystems in such extreme peril, it is critical to use media platforms to educate and inform the public about the scale of water challenges we face and to empower people with knowledge about available solutions. How do we get the public to both understand these complex challenges and be inspired to change behaviours and take action? Regardless of your profession or if you even work in media, it is imperative that as many people as possible learn how to become effective communicators of environmental issues to help inspire their friends, family and the next generation of water warriors!

For more information, view the event here.

Water and Canada’s Extractive Industries: Challenges and Opportunities

The extractive industries (mining, oil and gas) are large drivers of the Canadian economy, and many provinces generate a considerable portion of their revenue from these operations. However, extractive industries are not environmentally benign, altering surface and subsurface water quantity and quality. In this talk, Dr. Sean Carey will use examples from his experience working with resource industries to highlight the challenges and opportunities in mitigating and restoring disturbed landscapes. Examples from Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and Northwest Territories will highlight the water challenges associated with existing mines and resource extraction, and the increasingly serious issue related to the stewardship of hundreds of abandoned mines that exist throughout Canada.

For more information, view the event here.

Water-Related Catastrophes and What They Mean for the Insurance Industry

Catastrophes not only disrupt communities and people’s lives, but they also have a major financial toll. In 2017 alone, Canadian insured losses from catastrophic events totaled more than CAN $1.3 billion. It is becoming increasingly common for annual insured losses to exceed $1 billion; already in 2018, insured losses have surpassed this mark, and the year is far from over. Water is becoming a bigger player for the insurance industry as more companies begin to offer overland flooding and sewer backup coverages. In addition to the industry becoming more exposed to water, Canada has seen significant flooding events over the past several years. Laura will speak to how water-related events have impacted the insurance industry over the past decade.

For more information, view the event here.

Planning for a Carbon Neutral Community

Burlington city council has established a vision in its strategic plan for the city to become net carbon neutral. Burlington is transitioning from a suburban community to one that is experiencing more urban development. How does a community like Burlington plan for and achieve carbon neutrality? Is it feasible? Lynn will speak about the city’s Community Energy Plan and the future direction. What is changing in Burlington and how these activities may help other communities in the region to achieve the net carbon neutrality.

For more information, view the event here.

Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan

Is Hamilton Harbour a healthy place for things to live? Do things actually live there? Are those things contaminated? These three questions are at the heart of collective efforts to meet the measurable goals of the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan (RAP) to improve water quality, restore fish and wildlife populations and habitat, and clean up contaminated sediment. This lecture will highlight BARC’s 2017 Towards Safe Harbour Report Card on RAP progress, with forecasts for where we’re going to be in another few years.

For more information, view the event invitation here.

The Cryosphere: Changes and Impacts on the Environment and Human Activities

All elements of the cryosphere are responding to global warming. Glaciers and ice sheets are in general retreat; winters are becoming shorter with consequences for snowpack extent and duration; Arctic sea ice extent and thickness are affected; lake and river ice covers are becoming thinner and with shorter duration; permafrost is thawing. There are considerable consequences for ecosystems and the environment and human activities are being affected.

The presentation will examine, in particular, effects on human activities within mountainous regions, on water supply from mountain water sources and the impacts of sea level rise.

For more information, view the event invitation here.

Legacy and Emerging Contaminants in Fish, Wildlife and Humans: What are the Concerns?

Thousands of chemicals are produced and released by industries and used in consumer goods such as personal care products, pharmaceuticals, electronics and for food production. As a result, many of these chemicals are released to the environment and find their way into freshwaters and the aquatic food web. For decades we have been concerned about the fate and health effects of these chemicals on fish, fish-eating wildlife and humans. Some chemicals are persistent in the environment and concentrate up food webs, resulting in high exposures in top predators, while others are less persistent, yet continually discharged in wastewaters and are therefore “pseudo-persistent”.

This lecture will describe some of the current understanding of the environmental fate of legacy (e.g., pesticide DDT) and emerging (e.g., pharmaceuticals) contaminants, the broader and similar patterns of chemical exposures in humans, wildlife and fish, and the effectiveness of international treaties at reducing these exposures. In addition, examples of how these chemicals are linked to disease burdens in humans, wildlife and fish will be shown, as well as a case study of a pharmaceutical that has huge benefits for humans and detrimental effects on fish health. Understanding the risks of chemicals in the environment requires broader thinking and approaches – such as One Health. The presentation will end with some thoughts on the next steps.

For more information, view the event invitation here.

The Garden and The Marsh: The Fascinating Story of Cootes Paradise

Cootes Paradise Marsh is a Great Lakes coastal wetland gem. Although a natural feature, its history and future are bound up intimately with human activities, ranging from the gathering of natural resources by Indigenous peoples before European colonization to industrial-scale modification in the 19th century and multiple ecosystem stressors and restoration efforts in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Awareness of the fragility of the wetland and the potential for its destruction by development led directly to the deliberate creation of Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) as a hybrid institution – a set of large public gardens and large protected nature sanctuaries – by the City of Hamilton Board of Park Management and allies in the 1920s and 1930s. It was then established as a separate not-for-profit organization in 1941 by the Province of Ontario. Since the 1940s, RBG has led efforts to address the ecosystem stressors in Cootes Paradise, including the 1993 creation of Project Paradise and in 1997 the opening of the Cootes Paradise Fishway.

In this lecture, taking place during the 20th Anniversary celebrations for the Fishway, we will take a long view of Cootes Paradise Marsh, seeking to understand the relevance of the wetland today in its present condition against what is known of its ecological and cultural history, and examine trends and potential for further restoration.

For more information, view the event invitation here.


Boreal Burning! Managing Wildfire and Water in an Era of Drought and Warming

The boreal is a mosaic of forests and wetlands shaped by wildfire. Fire drives boreal vegetation and soil dynamics and is a vital component of this biome that plays a globally important role in climate regulation. However, boreal wildfire severity and area burned are expected to double by the end of this century as forest and wetland fuels become drier. An increase in high severity ‘mega fires’ can lead to catastrophic ecosystem collapse and the loss of valuable ecosystemservices such as water regulation and quality to downstream communities. This increase in wildfire risk is taking place at the same time as more people are working, living and playing in the boreal. Recent wildfire disasters such as the 2010 Moscow peat fires and the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire have increased the awareness of the key challenge and question facing wildfire management agencies. “How can boreal ecosystems be managed to reduce the risk of catastrophic collapse while protecting human health, water quality, property and economic activity from wildfire?” In this lecture, an integrative watershed-ecosystems approach to answering this question will be explored and a potential strategy to mitigate wildfire severity will be discussed.

For more information, view the event invitation here.


From the Age of Carbon to the Age of Water – The Role of Wetlands

We are currently living in the age of carbon and we are now starting to see the consequences of carbon emissions, leading to climate change. In 2015, at the climate change summit in Paris, almost all countries agreed to take steps to decarbonise their economies and reduce emissions.

Water is the sustaining flow that supports life. But our understanding of the vital role of water is still in its infancy, and the agreements, laws and policies governing water are equally weak. We need to realise that at the same time as carbon emissions are warming the planet, the global water cycle and local water cycles are changing and speeding up.

We need to safeguard the water that sustains our economies, in terms of drinking water supply, irrigation for agriculture, water for industrial processes and energy generation. And we also need to safeguard the water that sustains nature, its glorious biodiversity, and its complex functions and processes which are essential for life on this planet. Wetlands provide the vital link, wherever the water meets the land. In many places, wetlands are at risk either from human decisions or from climate change. Water-related disasters, such as droughts, floods, and coastal storm surges, are becoming increasingly frequent and severe.  However, I will show examples of how wetlands can help to reduce disaster risks. More research will help us understand all the multiple services that wetlands provide, and a better understanding of global and local water cycles will lead to better water management. It’s time to move away from the age of carbon, towards the age of water.

For more information, view the event invitation here.

Emerging Technologies for Resources Recovery from Wastewater

Wastewater can be used as a resource to recover valuable products. Nutrients in wastewater can be separated into various forms, such as struvite and ammonium carbonate minerals or gaseous ammonia. Wastewater sludge can be used to produce energy in the form of biogas and properly treated sludge can also be applied in the agricultural industry as land fertilizers. Treated and purified wastewater itself can also be used for various purposes, such as groundwater recharge, agricultural irrigation, and even direct potable water reuse.

This lecture will present the challenges for contaminant separation and water purification. The presentation will also highlight recent development of microbial electrochemistry methods for resources recovery and sustainable wastewater treatment.

For more information, view the event invitation here.

#SwimDrinkFish @HamiltonHarbour

Insights on the most intimate human interactions with our Bay

• Can we swim in Hamilton Harbour?
• Can we eat the fish?
• Where does our water go when it rains or we flush the toilet?

These questions are fundamental to our understanding and appreciation of our Bay as a natural system and community asset. The Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan (RAP) is a set of community goals and activities to repair our badly degraded Bay. In advance of BARC’s next report card on RAP and restoration progress in 2017, this presentation is an overview of some ofthe current issues defining our community’s relationship with its water.

For more information, view the event invitation here

Payments for Watershed Services

Forests, wetlands and grasslands all provide “watershed services” by enhancing water quality and supply, biodiversity and carbon storage. They have economic value but unfortunately their market price is $0, says Prof. Roy Brouwer, Executive Director of the Water Institute.

Payments for watershed services is a growing practice, where economists are studying how to attach the right price to the essential services that watersheds provide. Prof. Brouwer says, “when used properly, these payment schemes could significantly help preserve water ecosystems around the world.” But, in general, there is a lack of effective water pricing practices, which means there is no direct economic incentive for water users to conserve valuable water resources.

There are currently over 100 payments for watershed services schemes operating around the world. During World Water Week in Stockholm, Prof. Brouwer said the payment schemes are more common
in developing countries but are also of interest elsewhere.

The challenge lies in understanding what payment schemes are most effective under which circumstances: Who should pay and how much? What indicators should be monitored? Pinpointing what makes these schemes effective is what Prof. Brouwer is investigating.

For more information, view the event invitation here

Another Drop…From Your Tap

Water has a multitude of uses and touches on almost every aspect of our lives. Yet, almost 663 million
people in the world lack access to safe water. Clean drinking water is a human right taken for granted
in Canada. However, with climate change, increasing populations and worsening pollution, water
may become a much-sought after commodity here too.

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan – Hamilton’s sister city – highlights the potential for water insecurity
anywhere. UNU-INWEH presents a panel of experts to explore the topics related to water security by
answering three questions:
• Why did Flint happen; can it happen here?
• Why do people around the world lack access to clean water; can it happen here? and
• Do we need to rethink water management?

Speakers include Dr. Sarah Dickson from McMaster University as well as UNU-INWEH’s Dr. Lisa Guppy and Dr. Nidhi Nagabhatla.

For more information, view the event invitation here


Locking Up Randle Reef

Hamilton Harbour is home to the largest and most contaminated site within the Canadian side of the Great Lakes – Randle Reef. The site is approximately 60 hectares (120 football fields) in size containing approximately 695,000 cubic meters of sediment contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and other toxic chemicals. The contamination is often described as “a spill in slow motion” due to the continuing slow spread of contaminants across the Harbour floor and uptake into the food chain of the Harbour ecosystem. PAH contamination at Randle Reef is a legacy of a variety of past industrial processes dating back to the 1800s. There were multiple sources of contamination including coal gasification, petroleum refining, steel making, municipal waste, sewage and overland drainage.

The site was first identified as a principal target of Harbour restoration efforts in the late 1980s. Studies were conducted over several years to determine possible options for cleaning up the site. In 2002, a Project Advisory Group reached an agreement to explore the idea of containing and capping the sediment. An environmental assessment, project designs, and the quest to secure funding followed. The Randle Reef sediment remediation project involves constructing a 6.2 hectare engineered containment facility on top of a portion of the most contaminated sediment, then dredging and placing the remaining contaminated sediment in the facility.

This presentation will examine the history and characteristics of the problem and the solution.

To learn more, view the event invitation here.


The State Of Science In The Mackenzie Basin

The Mackenzie River is one of the great rivers of the world, ranking 10th by drainage area, and with a watershed that covers about 20% of Canada’s land mass. One of the names used by the Dene peoples that live in the basin is Dehcho, or the Great River. Despite its large size, the Mackenzie River basin is under threat from climate change, natural resource extraction and urban development. UNU-INWEH is pleased to host a discussion of the current state of the basin and future challenges for this important river system. Two experts will present their viewpoints on this vulnerable river system. UNU-INWEH partnered with The Gordon Foundation to prepare a historical record of research generated on the Mackenzie River basin from 1960 to 1985. This report entitled, “Dehcho – Great River: The State of Science in the Mackenzie Basin (1960-1985)” will be introduced to the public at the panel event.

To learn more, view the event invitation here.

Back To The Well: Rethinking The Future Of Water

In order to approach solutions, or approximate solutions, to the problems water is facing we need first of all, to reframe the debate, from considering water as a single global crisis to thinking of the issue as a series of local regional and river basin problems – instead of thinking globally and acting locally, we need to think AND act locally. That makes water problems easier to solve, not harder.

After that, we need to approach solutions through both of the obvious paths, working in concert – the path of the engineer (massive infrastructure projects, bulk water transfers, dams, desalination) and the “soft path” – don’t increase supply, reduce demand instead. Once you look for common ground, it is surprising how often these two paths converge and overlap.

The final point is to avoid taking hard ideological positions on contentious issues, but to find ways for engineers and conservationists to collaborate.

To learn more, view the event invitation here.


Quantifying The Consequence Of Risk And Uncertainty

TD Economics forecasts that natural hazards will cost the Canadian economy up to $43 bn/yr in 2050. The impact of risk on forecast outcomes is typically significant. The sources and magnitude of risk tend to increase as time, space, and scope of forecasts increase. Environmental management issues are good examples where decisions commonly involve multiple sources and high levels of risk, tied to complex biophysical and socioeconomic interactions. Here, risk estimation, quantitative analysis, and stakeholder communications will be examined. Practical examples from management of watersheds, human health impacts and transboundary air pollution will be presented. Some thoughts on what is needed to integrate quantitative risk analysis as a routine part of environmental management decisions will be given.

To learn more, view the event invitation here.


Lake Drying And Livelihood Dynamics

Ecosystem services of lake systems are critical to human livelihoods. Little is known about how lake depletion fits among the suite of stressors confronting agricultural populations in conflict prone regions, and whether locally-evolved responses are enhancing household well-being. This study draws on empirical, mixed-method field research to: 1) understand the influences of the Small Lake Chad on farming, fishing and pastoral livelihood groups in relation to livelihood drawbacks and opportunities, and the major mechanisms that shape these influences; 2) identify the diverse suite of stressors affecting households and where the Small Lake Chad fits among these; and 3) unpack the diverse portfolio of responses and whether they reflect locally adapted solutions. Addressing the manner in which drying lake environments act as a cover for insurgency will help to enhance livelihood security, creating an enabling context of cooperation rather than conditions conducive to conflict.

To learn more, visit the event invitation here. 


Water & Energy for Societies, Equality & Sustainable Development

This Another Drop event will feature the launch of the UN report, Putting Water and Energy at the Heart of Sustainable Development, a reception announcing a new partnership between UNU-INWEH and EPCOR, and a seminar presentation on the importance of meeting water and energy targets post-2015.

Speakers: Dr. Corinne Schuster-Wallace (UNU-INWEH), Bob Sandford (EPCOR Chair of the Canadian Partnership Initiative in support of United Nations “Water for Life” Decade)


The China-Canada Three Gorges Water Science Centre’s Role In Addressing Sustainable Water Management Of The Three Gorges Reservoir

The Three Gorges Dam is one of the world’s largest hydraulic engineering projects used to generate and supply electrical power, control flooding, and provide a source of water, via diversions, to the north of China where water is limited. Situated on the Yangtze River, the reservoir is the second largest in the world. The Yangtze River itself supports 33% of agricultural production in China and is a critical resource and component to China’s water security. The China-Canada Three Gorges Water Science Centre (CCTW) was created as a coalition between Chinese and Canadian universities to generate a watershed approach to address water quality issues within the reservoir. This seminar will provide an overview of two sponsored reservoir projects, the vision of CCTW, and its future strategy to increase its expertise base through Canadian and Chinese institutional partnerships.

Speaker: Dr. Ken G. Drouillard  (University of Windsor)

The Global Water Crisis As A Governance Crisis 

Water has been called blue gold and the new oil of the 21st century, raising the spectre of water wars between sovereign nations due to growing competition for clean freshwater. Climate variability and change are threat multipliers superimposed on connected food, energy and water security challenges. This presentation separates the rhetoric from the reality by framing the global water crisis as a crisis of governance. It identifies the drivers of the global water crisis and examines policy responses in large rivers of North America and Australia, closing with implications for Canada’s domestic and foreign policy.

Speaker: Dustin Garrick (McMaster University)


Water, Climate & Society 

Whether through extreme events or sea-level rise, many of the impacts of climate change are delivered by water.The challenges are complex, and the need for science to inform decision-making has never been greater. This distinguished lecture hosts leading practitioners in Canada and the US to learn lessons from the frontlines of efforts to respond to climate change. The two lectures are complementary perspectives on the nature of the climate change challenges we face, and the policy options to adapt.

Attendees are also invited to the Philomathia Water Futures Wine & Cheese Reception proceeding this distinguished lecture beginning at 5:30pm. (RSVP by October 01, 2014 required.)

Speakers: Katharine Jacobs (National Climate Assessment for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy), Bob Sandford (EPCOR Chair of the Canadian Partnership Initiative in support of United Nations “Water for Life” Decade)


World Water Day 2014: The Water-Energy Nexus – From Global to Local

Water purification requires energy and energy production requires water. Water and energy are not only both closely interconnected and interdependent with choices and actions in one domain positively or negatively affecting the other, but combined together, they impact on sanitation and food production. As the “bottom billion” continue to urgently need access to water, electricity, sanitation and food, understanding the interlinkages and synergies between water and energy to alleviate poverty should be a priority. Water and energy is therefore the theme for this year’s World Water Day on March 22. This panel event will focus on the water-energy nexus and linkages to food security and health issues. Panelists will draw from examples from across the world to illustrate these linkages such as the current development of a Ugandan strategy for wastewater reuse and the City of Hamilton’s biogas initiative to achieve zero-net-energy use.

Speakers: Emma Quillerou (UNU-INWEH), Michael Theodoulou (Anaergia Inc.), Dan McKinnon (City of Hamilton)


Global Action, Local Impact: Mercury Contamination In Arctic Ecosystems

Northern ecosystems and peoples currently face a number of environmental challenges, including climate change and chemical contaminants. There has been increasing concern about mercury levels in marine and freshwater organisms in the Arctic, due to the importance of traditional country foods such as fish and marine mammals to the diet of Northern peoples. This talk will look at mercury in Arctic aquatic ecosystems, tracking its path from sources to animals and people, and answering questions such as “how can there be concern about mercury in a pristine region such as the Arctic?” This is a story that has chemical, ecological, and human aspects and is complicated by other issues such as climate change.

Speaker: Dr. Igor Lehnherr (University of Waterloo)


Sustainable Development Governance In The Post-2015 Development Era: A Few Reflections

In 2015, the Millennium Development Goals – a set of global targets ushered in with the new millennium designed to eradicate poverty around the world – will end. What will the global leaders choose as the next set of targets post-2015? With climate change, continued inequity in access to established human rights, and widespread conflict in parts of the world, these goals will be important for steering a future where change is the only certainty.What are the mechanisms for deciding these goals and targets? How does water fit in to sustainable development governance? Where does Canada fit in this process? This presentation will focus on the post-2015 agenda intergovernmental processes while reflecting on the lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals and the broader role of water, especially with regard to agricultural management.

Speaker: Dr. Aslam Chaudhry (United Nations Secretariat)

The Right to WaSH; the Right to Health

In 2010, the United Nations declared Access to water and sanitation a human right. Despite this declaration and the efforts of many NGOs and governments around the world, 780 million people remain without access to improved sources of drinking water, with 653 million of them living in rural areas; 2.5 billion are still without improved sanitation and nearly 1.2 billion people still practice open defecation (UNICEF/WHO, 2012). Water and sanitation are strongly linked to hygiene and together they comprise WaSH (water supply, sanitation, and hygiene). WaSH problems are especially acute in low and middle income countries, which often lack the financial, human, and infrastructure resources. There is a critical need, both in Canada and globally, to address the problem of inadequate supplies of clean, safe water in rural, remote communities in order to improve health and wellbeing.

Speakers: Catarina de Albuquerque (UN Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation), Dr. Nancy Doubleday (McMaster University), Dr. Ross Pink (University of Toronto), Paul General (Six Nations Eco-Centre)


The Aftermath Of Natural Disasters: Realities And Myths

The number of people affected by natural disasters continues to increase. Examples of natural disasters include floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis. The media will often report on a natural disaster initially but the public interest soon fades. Dr. Redwood-Campbell will discuss the realities (and myths) of working in a post natural disaster setting. What is it like after the disaster? She will focus on the 2004 Asian tsunami response in Aceh Indonesia as an example. Dr. Redwood-Campbell will describe how the 2004 tsunami devastated the community, affected the health and wellbeing of individuals and how two medical universities are working together eight years later.

Speaker: Dr. Lynda Redwood-Campbell  (McMaster University)


‘Wallace’s Dream Ponds’: The Malili Lakes of Sulawesi Island

Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, has played a very important part in the history of evolution as the island’s biodiversity is very unique compared with other islands of Indonesia and their association with either the Asian or Australian flora and fauna.  Alfred Wallace spent most of his time trying to understand the evolutionary history on what he referred to as the ‘Ultimate Island’, before writing his famous letter to Charles Darwin.  This talk reviews the formation of Sulawesi, the creation and the biological evolution of the Malili Lakes, and explores why these lakes contain the highest percent of endemic species in the world.  This talk will also review how these lakes will contribute to our understanding of major climate events such long term variations in the Southern Oscillation.

Speaker: Dr. Ioannis K. Tsanis (McMaster University)


Water is Life: Issues Facing Canada and China in the 21st Century

Canada and China each face major challenges in managing their water resources in the 21st Century (both quality and quantity). While one might think that such vast countries would not experience these problems, they both do, but for very different reasons. This seminar will examine the issues in each country and what, if anything, governments and citizens are doing to guard their water resources.

Speaker: Dr. Harvey Shear (University of Toronto)


Addressing Water Quantity and Quality Concerns in the Peace-Athabasca Delta, Northern Alberta, From Perspectives of the Past

Effective stewardship of floodplain landscapes requires knowledge of the relative roles of natural processes and upstream human activities on environmental flows. In floodplain landscapes, hydro-ecological conditions that develop from potentially competing drivers, such as climate change and industrial development, tend to be expressed at spatial and temporal scales that are often inadequately captured by existing monitoring datasets. Consequently, perceived cause – effect relations may be misunderstood, conflict can escalate among stakeholders, and effectiveness of surveillance systems, policies, and governance may be impaired. This is the context for the Peace-Athabasca Delta, an internationally-recognized water-rich floodplain landscape located in northern Alberta that has been subject to multiple stressors. Based on over a decade of research, this seminar will relay key findings from lake sediment records that have fostered an unparalleled window into the past to address water quantity and quality concerns of today.

Speaker: Dr. Brent Wolfe (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Stories from the Field: Personal Insights from Working with Communities on Water and Sanitation Projects

Are you interested in volunteering or conducting research internationally? Have you wondered why people work internationally? Do you want advice on how to get started? Working within different settings to effect change around water, sanitation and health in developing communities can prove challenging but rewarding. Panelists will talk about their experiences, providing personal insights on the challenges, opportunities and rewards to working in the field. In particular, the speakers will provide valuable advice on the realities through anecdotal stories of volunteering or conducting research in developing countries.

Speakers: Dr. Chris Metcalfe (Trent University), Mr. Dan Olsen (CH2M Hill), Dr. Sheree Pagsuyoin (University of Waterloo)

View the videos below to listen to the lectures.


The Impact of Climate Change on Hydrological Extremes and Water Availability

Climate change is expected to have a significant impact on the hydrologic cycle, resulting in changing freshwater resources. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that as a result, floods and prolonged droughts will take place at increasingly frequent periods. The projected and bias adjusted precipitation is in line with the intensification of future precipitation process. The following two case studies will be discussed: Spencer Creek in Ontario and the island of Crete in the Eastern Mediterranean. Quantitative results of simulated hydrological changes provide the data required to improve existing policies on how to adapt to climate extremes and water shortages.

Speakers: Dr. Ioannis Tsanis (McMaster University)


Women and Water: Dignity, Innovation and Leadership (A Three-Part Series) 

Featuring The Honourable Maria Mutagamba, Minister of Water and Environment in Uganda (2006-2012)

Issues of water quality and quantity are of particular importance to women. From childbirth to education, from domestic responsibilities to dignity and safety, access to water and sanitation has very real impacts on women’s lives around the world. The MDG target for drinking water has officially been met, but the global picture remains dire. 2.5 billion people lack access to basic sanitation; 1.1 billion defecate in the open; and almost a billion lack access to improved water supplies. Where women’s voices are heard, they are strong advocates for potable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene practices. This lecture will explore the role of women in the global water crisis and how the public can meaningfully engage to contribute towards solutions.

19 September, 2012

This luncheon event will bring together individuals in the private and public sectors to discuss the many benefits of investing in water and sanitation projects:

  • How businesses can enter and excel in this area
  • New financing models
  • Successful public/private/civil society partnerships
  • Future opportunities

To listen to the lecture, view the videos below.


20 September, 2012

Policy design is often dominated by hierarchical institutional bodies which hold decision-making power. However, in order to achieve sustainability on the ground a balance needs to be found between the responsible authorities who control the allocation of financial and other resources, and the stakeholders who will be most affected by the implementation of policy. In water-related policy development, engagement of local people is essential to finding sustainable solutions and increasing the chances of long term success. Panelists will discuss whether bridging policy and practice can improve water security in rural communities; how to engage communities in designing effective policy to address water-related challenges; how policies support this engagement for sustainable interventions; who facilitates the interface; and, how and where this fits within the context of Rio+20 and the post-2015 sustainability goals.

To listen to the lecture, view the videos below:


Making the Connection: How Water Impacts the Holistic Health of Rural African Communities

This lecture will focus on the interconnected impact of water, heath and the environment. More specifically, this lecture will examine how access to clean and safe water in rural Tanzania and Ethiopia impacts community health, nutrition and environmental development. By focusing on rainwater harvesting at Ayalaliyo Primary School in Karatu, Tanzania and the construction of a protected spring in Jarso, Ethiopia, we will learn more about how water impacts the holistic health of African communities.

Speaker: Kevin O’Brien (Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief)


Measuring the Degradation of Ecosystem Health Caused by Climate Change

Certain landscape features offer tell-tale indicators of a watershed’s health and, in turn, offer insights into water productivity and quality both local and regional. This fundamental premise is leveraged in the design and attainment of a methodological framework for the assessment of resource degradation and the prediction of the future impacts of climate change on ecosystem health and productivity. The framework relies on historic earth observation data sets from a range of platforms and sensors at multiple scales and on projected climate scenarios from general circulation models (GCM) coupled to water balance and crop growth simulation models. The methodological focus is on the status and trends of land productivity, water quality and ecosystem health at multiple scales, illustrated through application of the framework in case studies in Canada and abroad, in collaboration with United Nations agencies.

Speaker: Raul Ponce-Hernandez (Trent University)

View the video below to listen to the lecture.


Science and Politics of Climate Change

While the potential impacts of climate change on human health and the environment are global in reach, the poor are likely to be the most adversely affected – and those changes will be felt most profoundly through water. Researchers are devoting much attention to this issue. But how are we applying this knowledge, and what yardsticks are we using to measure impacts? Furthermore, how are national and international political positions being affected by this knowledge?

Speakers: Dr. Graham Knight (McMaster University), Dr. Roberto Quinla (York University), Lucilla Spini (UNU-INWEH), Dr. Richard Thomas (UNU-INWEH)

View the video below to listen to the full lecture.

The Politics of Policymaking

Effective policy development is a complex process. This is particularly true in the case of water in which multiple water uses compete for priority. Within this context, evidence-based decision-making is essential to informed and appropriate water-related policy development. Incorporation of the most current research is an integral part of this process.

Speakers: Dr. Alex T. Bielak (UNU-INWEH), Dr. Ahmed Shafiqul (McMaster University), Mr. Carl Griffith (Former Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Environment)


The Wishing Well: Where Maternal Health and Water Intersect

With the global focus on maternal health and its slow progress towards improvement in many parts of the world, the issue of water and its availability (especially in light of climate change) is one that cannot be overlooked when examining the determinants of maternal health. Dr. Chamberlain and Dr. Nakabembe discuss some of the many ways that water directly and indirectly impacts maternal/infant health.

Speakers: Dr. Jean Chamberlain (Save the Mothers), Dr. Eve Nakabembe (Save the Mothers)


Arsenic Exposure of the Rural Poor in Bangladesh

Arsenic-related impacts continue to be important health concern in rural Bangladesh, with considerable effort still being extended to attenuate the exposure. Examples of assessments which are showing promise will be discussed, including: Rainwater harvesting; arsenic iron removal plants; food types and food preparation activities which influence exposure scenarios; and, using relationships between arsenicosis and arsenic in groundwater to identify areas where the risks are greatest which are proving of value but aren’t as effective as originally hoped. The summary demonstrates that there is much room for improvement.

Speaker: Edward A. McBean (Canada Research Chair in Water Supply & University of Guelph)

View the video below to listen to Mr. McBean’s lecture.


Water and Environmental Health in Ontario: How Far Have We Come Since Walkerton?

Theresa McClenaghan, one of the CELA lawyers representing the Concerned Walkerton Citizens in the Walkerton Inquiry, will briefly review what led to the tragedy in that community and what needed to change in protecting Ontario’s drinking water system. Theresa will then highlight what has happened since then to assure much better protection of drinking water in Ontario. Finally, Theresa will outline the changes that are still underway, and the balance of her talk will focus on the things that still need to happen to adequately protect drinking water for all Ontarians. In particular, drinking water issues relating to various contexts such as small, remote, rural, non-municipal, and First Nation communities will be reviewed.

Speaker: Theresa McClenaghan (Canadian Environmental Law Association)


Management of Water Utilities in the Arab Region: Challenges and Solutions

The water sector in the Arab region suffers from chronic problems, such as water scarcity, weak water and environmental policies, high investment needs, lack of management and technical capacity, increasing demand due to growing populations, and conflict. Here comes the necessity to engage professionals in utilities from the Arab countries in a dialogue that extends across the borders within the Arab world. This presentation will talk about the problems and challenges facing water and wastewater utilities in the Arab region and what are the alternatives and solutions that should be done to overcome these problems and provide better water supply and sanitation services.

Speaker: H.E. Eng. Khaldon Khashman (Secretary General of ACWUA)


Ilngwesi: How to Animate a Community towards Health Care Progress

In 2007, a Maasai Community in Kenya stated their desire to “get HIV/AIDS under control,” throughout their 50 km by 50 km area of land. A team of volunteers from North America joined a team of local volunteers to figure out what that might look like. Miriam will share the story of how facilitation methods were combined with local knowledge and understanding to successfully implement a community-wide, awareness, and voluntary testing campaign that has proven to be sustainable.

Speaker: Miriam E. Patterson (International Family Literacy Initiative, ICA Canada)

Preserving Wetlands: Their Biochemical Contribution to Heath and Intelligence

Wetlands are under siege worldwide due to the effects of climate change (e.g. droughts and increasing water temperatures), farming practices, excess nutrients, and contaminants. Wetlands are also considered “valuable” because they are known to provide a variety of “ecosystem services”, for example: provisioning of drinking water, navigation and flood control, esthetic and recreational services, and mitigation of organic contaminants. One ecosystem service that has, so far, been under-appreciated is their ability to act as reservoirs and suppliers of essential nutrients. For example, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) that has several unique properties. It comprises 40% and 60% of the PUFAs in the brain and retina, respectively, and 50% of the weight of the brain’s neuron plasma membranes. It has been shown to promote visual acuity and improve cognitive development (“intelligence”) in vertebrates. But where does much of the DHA in terrestrial organisms ultimately come from? Fish oils are rich in DHA, however, most of the DHA in fish and fish consumers (e.g. otters) originates from algae and generally becomes increasingly concentrated in aquatic organisms as it moves progressively up to higher levels in food chains. From there, essential nutrients (such as DHA and another fatty acid called EPA), can, by a variety of pathways, make their way onto terrestrial landscapes. It is important to document how these aquatic-terrestrial DHA transfers are brokered and to understand emerging threats to the global supply of these essential nutrients. Such an analysis leads to the conclusion that we must now add one heretofore unrecognized ecosystem service to the suite of services provided by wetlands; namely, the provisioning of essential PUFA to adjacent terrestrial systems. This newly recognized service provides conservationists and managers with a new outlook and justification for preserving our aquatic resources.

Speaker: Michael T. Arts (Environment Canada)


Contemporary Issues and Challenges Related to Water, Health and Environment in Uganda

Rural and urban populations in Uganda face different challenges of safe water supply and therefore need different approaches to intervention. Many of the larger towns in Uganda have piped water but because of low income, many households cannot afford to pay the bills let alone the cost of installing running water systems in their houses. Although there are plenty of water sources, the majority of them are not safe for consumption because they are contaminated by industrial and domestic waste. In urban areas, the contamination is caused by numerous pit latrines, direct sewer leakages, flooding (after heavy rains) and by industrial waste which is directly dumped into water bodies. In rural areas, people travel long distances to fetch water and it may be contaminated because it is used as a watering point for cattle, or a place where people bathe and wash clothes. A dynamic response to the challenges of safe water calls for diverse levels of interventions which include, among others, community awareness campaigns, protecting/safeguarding the water sources and poverty alleviation programmes.

Speakers: Dr. Edward Mukooza Kibikyo (Uganda Christian University), Dr. Frederick Kakembo (Uganda Christian University)

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