One of the important mandates of the Philomathia Foundation is to support research and learning relating to issues of global importance, and the ongoing work of the McMaster University Water Network in Hamilton, Ont., certainly fulfills that directive.

Established in 2014, the McMaster Water Network connects water science, policy and technology to deliver transformative impacts on  a range of local and global concerns at the interface of water and health, climate change and sustainable development. Each year, the program hosts a Spring Water Forum to set the agenda for connecting McMaster science, education and partnerships with emerging water policy challenges; this year’s gathering takes place on Monday, April 18 at the David Braley Health Sciences Centre.

Upcoming Spring Forum a Flagship Event

This year’s forum – the 3rd annual – is part of McMaster’s yearlong Research Showcase series, which culminates with a week-long series on Environment and Climate Change entitled Navigating from Risk to Resilience through Big Ideas, Better Cities. Among the highlights will be keynote addresses from two highly-regarded experts in the field, who will address climate resilience and drinking water crises around the world.

But public health and water safety issues are not limited to far-flung locales; closer to the McMaster campus, many will be familiar with the recent water crisis in Flint, Michigan – where lead big ideas better citiesleached into the drinking water supply after the city of Flint switched its drinking water source. Dr. Yanna Lambrinidou was part of the Virginia Tech University team that uncovered the issue. She recently testified before the United States Congress relating to the situation in Flint; she will appear at the Spring Water Forum to share some of her insights from her work and how the entire experience unfolded, including the need for engineers to engage with the public to make an impact.

In addition to Dr. Lambrinidou’s address, the forum will welcome Dr. Patrick Ray from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who will discuss pathbreaking approaches to build resilience to climate change in water planning. Dr. Ray will shine a spotlight on the results from his recent book on “Confronting Climate Uncertainty in Water Resources Planning and Project Design: The Decision Tree Framework”, published by the World Bank in 2015 to inform its investments.

The event will also feature a variety of other speakers and presentations, including projects from the first cohort of McMaster Water Network Water Leadership program students.

The Spring Water Forum serves as an important tent pole event for the outstanding work that the program is taking on throughout the year; a chance to reflect, hear new perspectives, and focus on the future of water policy and water issues. Organizers are optimistic that this year’s forum will be the best yet.

Water Network’s Mandate Spreads Far & Wide

The work and research relating to water security is not limited to the McMaster campus.

dustin garrick

The Philomathia Professor in Water Policy & Research at McMaster University, Dr. Dustin Garrick (left) has been busy with a number of initiatives, from spending time in Australia  to observe vital negotiations relating to the nation’s water policy, to presenting at the Oxford Water Security 2015 conference.

Most recently, Dr. Garrick recently served as co-lead for a water security workshop at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center Conference. The workshop focused on the advancement of a new framework to help meet the water security needs of feeding 2.4 billion more people by the year 2050.

The meeting brought together 23 leading scientists and practitioners to advance a new decision-making framework pilot project in Vietnam and the Ganges River basin, two of the regions most vulnerable globally.

“This meeting epitomizes what Philomathia is about and was inspired by the bold vision catalyzed by the Foundation’s investment at McMaster,” Dr. Garrick said.