When I was eleven, I visited Zimbabwe and saw many women and children carrying their daily water for a great distance. The realization that so many people don’t have access to reliable, safe water was a watershed moment for me. Water is life, and it is undoubtedly being impacted by climate change. In order to adapt to changes in hydrological systems, we need to look locally – watersheds and subwatersheds – to see how microclimatic changes impact aquifers, springs, wetlands, streams and creeks. Is water quality in our community going to be degraded by local, extreme storm or flooding events? Are we not going to be able to irrigate as much in this county due to groundwater decline? Are cold water fish in this stream going to be impacted by lower baseflow in the summer? We need to work together combining multiple fields of study, from technical simulations to social science to art, to build water resiliency as we face the climate emergency.
Associate Professor, School of Engineering (Water Resources Engineering and G360 Institute for Groundwater Research), University of Guelph.