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The Okanagan Institute is a group of creative professionals that have gathered around the goal of providing events, publications and services of interest to enquiring minds in the Okanagan. We partner with individuals, organizations, institutions and businesses to achieve optimal creative and social impact.

Our mission is to ignite cultural transformation, catalyze collaborative action, build networks and foster sustainable creative enterprises. We provide innovative consultation, facilitation, professional development and creative services.

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Okanagan Institute
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Address Kelowna
Phone (250) 870-2690
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okanagan, institute, express, outlook, showcase, design, learning
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Email info@okanaganinstitute.com
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Description

The Okanagan Institute is a group of creative professionals that have gathered around the goal of providing events, publications and services of interest to enquiring minds in the Okanagan. We partner with individuals, organizations, institutions and businesses to achieve optimal creative and social impact.

Our mission is to ignite cultural transformation, catalyze collaborative action, build networks and foster sustainable creative enterprises. We provide innovative consultation, facilitation, professional development and creative services.

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Jul 12, 2010

Water at Express Thursday July 15

Leading Environmental Expert to Explore the Sustainability of Water

Water sustainability is vital to the future of the valley. The Okanagan has less water per person than any other area in Canada, but some of the highest water use. We depend on water not only to drink, but for our food production, the manufacture of goods, and almost every aspect of our lifestyle. Any impact on our water resources therefore affects many elements of our lives.

The idea that water might be a problem can be hard to comprehend. Surely there is no shortage? We are surrounded by the stuff. But the plenitude of water is something of an illusion. As the sailors in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner discovered when they were becalmed at sea: "Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink." Who has not encountered this in the recent history of our valley? Water use restrictions appear almost daily, either as being under possible implementation or, in fact, being in place, but largely ignored.

On Thursday, July 15th at 5 pm the ongoing weekly Okanagan Institute Express series at the Bohemian Cafe, Kelowna presents What's With Water? Join us as Anna Warwick Sears of the Okanagan Basin Water Board explores water sustainability, including planning and management solutions to the Valley's pressing water problems. This town hall meeting invites all present to question the speaker and to put forth their own ideas and opinions.

Anna Warwick Sears is the Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board - a local government agency established in 1968 to provide leadership for water issues in the Okanagan valley. She received a PhD in Population Biology at the University of California in Davis, studying competition for limiting resources in arid environments. She won a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to support this research. After completing her studies, Anna took the position of Research Director for the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation in Sonoma County, California, bringing together science and collaborative planning for an endangered wetland area, and co-authoring the two-volume restoration plan "Enhancing and Caring for the Laguna." Returning home to British Columbia to work for the Water Board, Anna finds both inspirational contrasts and cautionary examples comparing water policy in California and B.C.

Anna is a Certified Professional Ecologist, a Registered Professional Biologist, and holds a certificate in B.C. Local Government Administration. She has authored papers, reports and book chapters on subjects ranging from water governance to restoration, food webs and mathematical ecology. She has taught a course at UBC Okanagan on Sustainability, Planning and the Political Process in the Okanagan.

Most of the local industries - including agriculture and tourism - depend on water sustainability - keeping it clean and abundant. Since 2006, the Water Board has been developing a Water Management Program to bring together the interests of local and senior governments, First Nations, local water stakeholders, and the public, and Anna was recruited to develop this Program. The goal is to find made-in-the-Okanagan solutions to pressing water problems that span the valley. Drought, climate change, water pollution, and environmental degradation don't respect political boundaries, and the Water Board provides a bridge across jurisdictions.

Everything depends on partnerships. Looking forward, it will be essential to have the best possible water governance frameworks, planning and management practices. No one region, agency, organization, or level of government can address water sustainability alone. Anna joined the Water Sustainability Committee to strengthen the communication and exchange of ideas between the Okanagan and the progress taking place in other areas of BC.

In a similar way, Anna hopes to increase the impact of the Water Board's two water quality and conservation grant programs by linking with other public and private funding agencies in the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network. Most of the Water Board's major water science and policy projects are also done collaboratively, through partnerships. The largest of these is the Okanagan Water Supply & Demand Project - co-directed by the BC Ministry of Environment - which uses studies of hydrology, environmental and human water needs to estimate how much water is currently available, then applies climate change and population growth scenarios to estimate water availability in the future. Anna co-chairs the technical working group for this project, that includes more than 10 other partner agencies, organizations and universities.

What's With Water? takes place at the Bohemian Cafe, Kelowna. This marks the 146th event the Okanagan Institute has held since the Express series got underway in July 2007. For more information and to register online, go to www.okanaganinstitute.com

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