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Annual Conference of Water Professionals Showcases Transboundary Cooperation
IJC admin | 2017/08/14
By Paul Allen, IJC
Hundreds of water professionals gathered for the annual conference of Canadian Water Resources Association (CWRA) in June in Lethbridge, Alberta. The three-day event brought people together along the rugged shore of the Old Man River to share information and best practices in all things water management. The conference featured keynote talks from leading water experts from Canada and the United States as well concurrent sessions related to topics including shared water resource challenges, water quality, modelling, and evolving policy and regulation.
The IJC was a conference sponsor, as the overall theme of the event, “Water – A Continental Asset,” resonated closely with our organization’s interests.
Not surprisingly, the Commission was well represented in Lethbridge by US Commissioner Rich Moy and staff from IJC section offices in Ottawa, Ontario, and Washington, D.C. Members of IJC boards also attended, including the Health Professionals Advisory Board, Red River Board, Rainy and Namakan Lakes Rule Curves Study Board, and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management Committee.
The conference logo. Credit: CWRA
The result was an excellent opportunity to reach out and share the work of the IJC in Canada-US basins with a knowledgeable community of water professionals. Many participants at the conference were from southern Alberta. So they were familiar with the Commissions’ role in the context of the St. Mary and Milk rivers, but less familiar with the IJC’s broader role under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and in other watersheds across the continent.
For this reason, and owing to the large number of IJC talks sprinkled throughout the conference, the Commission was able to spread the word of all the ways in which the IJC works across disciplines, and across the border, to help prevent and resolve cross disputes.
Commissioner Moy gave a comprehensive keynote address to delegates, demonstrating the breadth and depth of the IJC’s work across many landscapes over many decades since our organization’s inception at the turn of the last century.
Session talks by various staff also allowed for in-depth analysis of topics such as the recent work of the Rainy and Namakan Lake Rule Curves Study Board (out for public review until Sept. 1), modeling efforts through a binational water quality model called SPARROW, regulating the flows from Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River, and Great Lakes adaptive management.
CWRA annual conferences have been a touchstone for water professionals in Canada for decades and the recent Lethbridge conference was no exception. The Commission is proud to have played a key role in keeping the peace in transboundary waters for many years and hopes to be involved in future CWRA events to continue to share best practices in managing shared water resource management issues.
Paul Allen is manager of the policy and communications at the IJC’s Canadian Section office in Ottawa, Ontario.