How can we protect our water?

UBC Dialogues: Okanagan - How can we protect our water?

The Okanagan is known for its pristine lakes and rivers. Tourists visit the region for the scenery, vineyards, and abundant recreation opportunities that these waters provide. Residents rely on this water every day. But how clean is it, really? Wastewater, as well as chemical runoff from industry and agriculture, poses a threat to our freshwater supplies. How can we neutralize these threats without sacrificing our economic well-being? What steps can we take to ensure our most valuable resource remains clean and abundant for years to come.

This event took place June 17, 2014, in Kelowna.

Official Broadcast and Online Media Partner:





Chris Walker – Host, CBC’s Daybreak South


Bruce Mathieson – Associate Professor, Biology, UBC’s Okanagan campus

Ivor Norlin – Manager of Infrastructure Programs, Interior Health, Health Protection

Anna Warwick Sears – Executive Director, Okanagan Basin Water Board

Panelist Biographies

Chris Walker

Chris WalkerChris is an award-winning reporter who started his career in the alleyways of Egypt after landing his first job with the Cairo Times, an independent human rights magazine.  While in the Middle East, he also reported from Israel and the Palestinian Territories, freelancing for CBC News and writing for the Lebanon Daily Star.  Since then, he’s lived in Victoria and Prince George, where for three years he hosted the morning show for Northern BC.  Most recently, he worked as a news editor in Kelowna, where he lives with his wife and dog.

When he’s not on the radio, Chris can be found in the garden or in the kitchen.  He also enjoys running and playing field hockey (no, he doesn’t wear a skirt!).

Chris grew up on Galiano Island near Victoria.  He holds a degree in American history from the University of Victoria and a graduate degree in journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa.

Bruce Mathieson

Bruce MathiesonDr. Bruce Mathieson’s research interests include neurobiology of reproduction behavior. He is examining how steroid hormones influence the function of brain cells and the hormonal control of reproduction. He is also looking at the effects of so-called “endocrine-disruptor” chemicals released by agriculture, industry and wastewater effluents into the aquatic environment. These can interfere with steroid hormone metabolism and potentially with the brain regulation of reproduction. Laboratory and field experiments are currently being done on endocrine disruption in fish.  Exposures to very dilute concentrations of endocrine disruptors (ie. similar to those measured in the environment) are causing alterations in the genetic regulation of steroid hormone and neurosteroid synthesis.

At the UBC Okanagan campus, Bruce has taught courses about Anatomy and Physiology, Neurobiology, the current Global Decline of Amphibians, and the role of Steroid Hormones in Brain Development and Function. He is a member of the Okanagan Institute for Biodiversity, Resilience, and Ecosystem Services (BRAES) at UBC Okanagan. Bruce received his PhD at the University of Ottawa in Anatomy and Neurobiology in 1987.

Ivor Norlin

Ivor NorlinBefore joining Interior Health in 2005, J. Ivor Norlin, MSc, RPBio, CPHI(C) worked as an environmental biologist for seven years holding positions with Okanagan University College, the BC Ministry of Forests, and the University of Alberta.  Ivor is a professional biologist with two bachelor degrees and a master degree in environmental and health studies.  He has published several papers on surface water quality dynamics and public health risk management.  Born and raised in Armstrong, Ivor now lives in Salmon Arm with his wife and two children.

Anna Warwick Sears

Anna Warwick SearsAnna Warwick Sears is the Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, a collaborative local government water agency.  Raised in BC, she received a PhD in population biology at the University of California – Davis. Before returning to Canada in 2006, Dr. Sears was Research Director of a watershed NGO in California. Dr. Sears is passionate about using science to solve real-world problems and building bridges with community stakeholders.  In her free time, Anna loves to explore the Okanagan valley, and cook dinner for friends.

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