Developments in environmental flows

By Mathieu Lebel, Advisor of Water Management, WWF-Canada

At WWF Canada, our freshwater program, like all of our work, is grounded in the development, application and promotion of the best available science, management practices, and policy. Recently we took our work on the road, convening a special session at the CWRA-CGU National Conference held in Banff, Alberta from June 5-8. The session was intended to explore the status and developments in environmental flows science, management, and policy across Canada, and will inform the overarching goal of our Living Rivers initiative, which is to advance the science, policy – and most importantly – implementation of environmental flow management across the nation. We could not have asked for a better setting to discuss flow and river dynamics as the Bow River was raging during the conference, flooding its banks in the Banff area, which was quite a sight.

Bow Falls, Banff, June 7, 2012 © X. Fang

The CWRA-CGU National Conference provided an excellent forum to exchange thoughts and ideas on innovations in water resources and geosciences, and is a demonstration of the strong commitment to protect, conserve and value our precious water resources to ensure their security and sustainability now and in the future.

© Canadian Water Resources Association-Canadian Geophysical Union

We were fortunate to have assembled an excellent group of presenters and panel discussion members from federal and provincial government agencies, academic institutions, and environmental organizations from across the country for our session. The session room was packed at times, and the presentations lead to insightful and engaged dialogue among presenters and audience members. From the initial planning stages of the session right through the conference, we had great support from the CWRA-CGU National Conference organizing committee.
Tony Maas, Freshwater Program Director, introduced the context and goals for the special session and moderated one of the session’s panel discussions, while Rob Powell, Mackenzie River Basin Director, presented ‘The Environmental Implementation Challenge: the Athabasca River.’ Some of Rob’s presentation was derived from the WWF-Canada Securing Environmental Flows in the Athabasca River report and broader environmental flows implementation challenges and opportunities.
Outputs from the session will follow in the coming year and in the meantime WWF-Canada – through our Living Rivers initiative – will continue our efforts to forward science, policy and implementation of environmental flows in Canada.