UVic Torch Autumn 2003
Autumn 2003,
Volume 25, Number 1

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Photograph by DIANA NETHERCOTT


WHEN HE'S NOT COLLECTING SAMPLES FROM A RESERVOIR or out talking about water, you'll find biologist Prof. Asit Mazumder in his lab in the basement of the Cunningham Building. He leads some 30 investigators who bring varied approaches to the study of drinking water, watersheds and how to keep them safe. He spoke to the Torch on the eve of a national workshop on watershed science.

What are the main objectives of the people in your lab? There are three major focuses. One is to develop sustainable, clean and healthy water strategies and the science for that. The second one is fish and salmon productivity. And the third is contaminants in water and fisheries.

Describe the lab's capabilities. I think our uniqueness is in our interdisciplinary approach. We are, I think, unique in the whole world-a single lab that is looking from the watershed, through to source water, treatment, human health and socio-economic implications of sustaining the environment for clean and healthy water.

How concerned should we be about the water we drink? In Victoria, no concern at all. But there are places that should be seriously concerned-Salt Spring Island, Kelowna, Kamloops. When you do not protect or manage the watershed that supplies the most precious thing, the water that we drink, we are compromising our health. And we are being told that we can solve all our problems with treatment. We cannot.

So the main concern should be protecting those watersheds? It's not only protection, it's sustainable management of the resource that is important. We need to understand how to manage the system in a sustainable manner-how resources users can give and take, where the top priority is the quality of the environment.

That's what you mean by 'integrated management'? Exactly. We work directly with water utilities, the forest industry and governments so that the knowledge we develop is transferred directly.

What are the key issues on the horizon? Community health and its relationship with the quality of the environment. The other one is pharmaceuticals ending up in drinking water.through waste water running into source water. Not in Victoria. But many other systems have that problem. But I think our first step is to help this province get the science it needs so that we have the best policies in the world to sustain clean and healthy water.

On the Web: uvic.ca/water

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