CH2M HILL recently participated at this symposium which was well attended by individuals passionate about their research and solving water sustainability issues around the world.

By Tom Mahood, P.Eng., CH2M HILL Vice President, Senior Project Manager, Water Resources and Ecosystem Management Practice Leader and Water Sustainability Coordinator for Canadian Region

The University of Waterloo (UofW) in Southern Ontario, Canada, is one of the world’s leading research institutions in many areas of science, mathematics and engineering. Since 1957 the UofW has been developing programs and initiatives that fit well within the objective of CH2M HILL to provide leadership in developing innovative and sustainable solutions to water resource challenges. CH2M HILL has been collaborating with the UofW for more than 20 years in areas related to natural treatment systems and watershed management, and recently participated in an exciting opportunity to highlight climate change risks and adaptation to the students, faculty and business partners associated with the Water Institute.

Formed in 2009 at the UofW, the Water Institute provides opportunities for “collaboration among individuals engaged in water science, technology, management, and governance. The Institute’s activities focus on the sustainable use and management of water resources to support healthy and prosperous communities and ecosystems at the national and international scale.”  This focus was brought to the attention of the Water Sustainability Coordinators at CH2M HILL through a request to participate in the Water Institute’s 2013 Research Symposium. The Symposium offered presentations and discussions on topics including Climate Impacts on Hydrological Regimes to Governance in the Water, Energy, Food and Climate Security Nexus and Water for Wellbeing in Marginalized Communities. It was a very well attended symposium and there was a lot to learn from speakers who were passionate about their research and the opportunity that the WI represents to provide support and guidance on water sustainability issues around the world.

During the concurrent sessions I chaired a group of researchers that presented on Protecting Coastal Communities from Climate Change, Numerical Modelling of Numerical Processes in Lakes and The Cryosphere and Global Environmental Change. All were really interesting but from different perspectives. The coastal communities discussion really brought to light the struggles of many small island communities that rely on stable water levels for food security. Dr. Johanna Wandell talked about sustaining agricultural practices in the small island nation of Mauritius. The numerical modeling really brought home the potential impacts of a warming climate on the Great Lakes right here in our own back yard in Ontario through Dr. Kevin Lambs presentation about circulation in Lake Erie. The cryosphere discussion from Dr. Richard Kelly was another wake-up call to climate change impacts on our polar regions.

It was certainly a great pleasure to take part in the Symposium. Perhaps the most encouraging part of the day were the many questions from the students at the Symposium who are studying across a wide range of disciplines of science and engineering and who are keen to get out into the world and make a difference. Perhaps we will be lucky enough to have some of them here at CH2M HILL.

Mr. Mahood has more than 30 years of experience in water resources management and has developed water efficiency and demand management strategies for various municipalities across Canada. Additional areas of expertise in water resources engineering include the development of source protection management strategies, watershedsubwatershed plans, stormwater/environmental management plans, and pollution control master plans for municipalities. Mr. Mahood integrates his background in aquatic sciences and water resources engineering to bring a unique perspective on sustainability to his projects.