Water security in the Canadian Prairies: Science and management challenges

Howard Wheater, Patricia Gober

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


In this paper, we discuss the multiple dimensions of water security and define a set of thematic challenges for science, policy and governance, based around cross-scale dynamics, complexity and uncertainty. A case study of the Saskatchewan River basin (SRB) in western Canada is presented, which encompasses many of the water-security challenges faced worldwide. A science agenda is defined based on the development of the SRB as a large-scale observatory to develop the underpinning science and social science needed to improve our understanding of water futures under societal and environmental change. We argue that non-stationarity poses profound challenges for existing science and that new integration of the natural sciences, engineering and social sciences is needed to address decision making under deep uncertainty. We suggest that vulnerability analysis can be combined with scenario-based modelling to address issues of water security and that knowledge translation should be coupled with place-based modelling, adaptive governance and social learning to address the complexity uncertainty and scale dynamics of contemporary water problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20120409
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2002
StatePublished - Nov 13 2013


  • Adaptive governance
  • Decision making under uncertainty
  • Environmental change
  • Saskatchewan river basin
  • Social learning
  • Water security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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