Act now, climate change experts urge

Sandford, Harford provide advice to East Kootenay residents on how to prepare for changes to our water resources

Deborah Harford (left) and Bob Sandford.

Two climate change experts were in Cranbrook last week to urge Columbia Basin residents to get informed about the predicted changes to our water resources.

Bob Sandford, the EPCOR Chair of the Canadian Partnership Initiative in support of United Nations “Water for Life” Decade, and Deborah Harford, executive director of Simon Fraser University’s Adaption to Climate Change Team, visited Cranbrook and Kimberley on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to give public lectures at McKim Middle School and the College of the Rockies, also meeting with students in both cities.

The series was sponsored by Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook, Wildsight and the College of the Rockies.

The pair spoke about how predicted climate change will affect our water resources, and what we in the East Kootenay can do to prepare.

“My message for the Kootenays is that what is happening in the rest of Canada and around the world suggests you are in a very positive position with respect to the benefits that will accrue here as a result of managing water more effectively,” Sandford told the Townsman.

“By decreasing water usage, by being very careful in understanding natural processes and ecosystem needs for water, by understanding the larger dynamics of the Columbia River Treaty, you can position yourself as a region to have a very positive future.”

Harford explained the impacts climate change will have here in the East Kootenay.

“You will get warmer, wetter winters with more rain falling as snow on lower elevations, and more heavy precipitation events that are unpredictable. So you’ve got more chance of flooding. There will be longer, hotter, drier summers, without the benefit of the snowpack and ice that used to be there at lower elevations running off, so you are more likely to get drought at the end of the summer,” she told the Townsman.

“All of those things have implications for everything from civic infrastructure, to farmers and their water allocations, to how we deal with the Columbia River Treaty.”

Sandford agreed that reconsidering the Columbia River Treaty is a pivotal opportunity for our region. It gives us the chance to make policy based on the current understanding of ecosystems, an energized hydrological cycle, equity with First Nations, and the fact that climate change could affect surrounding regions differently to how it affects us.

“The reconsideration of the Columbia River Treaty is an opportunity to address all of those things simultaneously so that you might be able to use crafting of new conditions of the treaty as an adaptation strategy for the entire region,” said Sandford.

B.C.’s water act has elements that are more than 100 years old, Harford went on.

“It predates climate change, it predates pretty much everything that has ever happened in B.C. We really need to encourage our leaders to keep that on the table,” she said, adding that it doesn’t contain groundwater protection policies.

“I encourage people to write to their mayors and councillors, to their MLAs and MPs, and to think about this in the provincial election next year,” said Harford.

“Find out all about it and then write to the current premier and the opposition and tell them, I want to see this on the table because we need to protect our water in B.C.”

The Columbia Basin is uniquely positioned to make a difference to the province, Sandford pointed out.

“Water act modernization, nesting that in the Columbia River Treaty, and responding to these larger issues is an economic and a social opportunity for the people who live in the Basin and ought to be considered as such,” he said.

“In this town, your mayor is a central player in some of those considerations. You have people in your municipal government who have influence on these matters. They would appreciate the best advice they can get and the best understanding of what their constituents want.”

Harford echoed the importance of speaking up.

“We really need to let our leaders know that we care about it. Anybody in this region who does care about our water systems would be helping by bringing that up,” she said.

“Let local leaders know you want to see these issues considered in policy, and that you are prepared to help and support.”

You can learn more about B.C.’s water act at www.livingwatersmart.ca.

Just Posted

An interview with a magician

2018 Magic Variety Show hits Key City Theatre

New slant on the next play

Cranbrook Community Theatre tries something new with next play

Fundraiser set up after car accident

Bystander fishing at nearby lake describes springing into action after hearing the collision.

VIDEO: Explorers uncover Canada’s deepest cave in Fernie

The cave, named Bisaro Anima, was confirmed to have broken the record on New Year’s Day

The tradition carries on

Locals Coffee House, Saturday, Jan. 13, at the Studio Stage Door

The polls, the polls are confusing

There’s good news and bad news for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The… Continue reading

World O’ Words: No stumpage fees for the speechmakers

As long as man has been using fire, he has been chopping… Continue reading

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

Most Read