WELLINGTON WATER WATCHERS Celebrates World Water Day
Hugh has spoken often of the need to go beyond a modern, human-centric worldview embedded in maligned policies and poor political decisions that mistreat life-giving waters. He understands that our best thriving, and that of all ecology, will happen when we work within the intricacies and balance of natural cycles. And although meticulous and relentless in his advocacy, Hugh has always managed to do this work with a twinkle in his eye and lots of great stories.
WWW is creating the Hugh Whiteley Lifetime Achievement Award. Our goal in creating this award are twofold: to honour Hugh’s immense contributions, and, to inspire a new generation of water protectors. This will be an annual award given to one person each year who demonstrates an extraordinary passion and dedication to water protection. The first recipient will be Hugh himself.
WWW has commissioned a short documentary film to honour Hugh and will show this at the World Water Day event (RSVP here)
We are looking for fiscal sponsors for this film to help honour Hugh. If you personally or your organization have been inspired by the lifetime of teaching and influence of Hugh, please consider donating to cover the costs of this mini-documentary film.
Donations of $250 or more, will receive a Charitable tax receipt and we will list your name in the credits of the film.
Donations under $250 will have your name included in a card to Hugh when he receives the award.
If you prefer to mail in a cheque, please email [email protected]
To read a bit more about Hugh and his lifetime of accomplishments, please read the bio below.
And don’t forget to RSVP to join our special celebration of World Water Day 2020 and in honouring one of our inspiring local hero’s for his lifetime of water advocacy.
Arlene Slocombe – Executive Director
Wellington Water Watcher
Rivers Advocate Dr. Hugh Whiteley:
By Janet Baine - GRCA Communications Specialist
Taken from Grand Actions – The Grand River watershed newsletter. January/February 2016. Volume 21, Number1.
University of Guelph engineer and hydrologist Dr. Hugh Whiteley is a passionate advocate for the rivers in his community. For his years of dedication, especially to local waterways, he received a 2015 Watershed Award from the GRCA.
Whiteley's interest in water is rooted in genetics. One grandfather was a sea captain, the other operated a summer resort on Mara Lake in B.C. At age four he received his first paddle and accompanied his parents on many canoe trips.
As a child, he built snow dams in the spring and raced matchstick boats in the runoff streams in front of his Ottawa home. This led to a study of engineering at Queen’s University with a fourth year undergraduate thesis on flood prediction. Thirsty for more knowledge of water, he studied at Imperial College in London (Diploma in Hydrology) and at the St. Anthony Falls laboratory at the University of Minnesota (M.Sc.). Whiteley then applied his training in Guyana (Land of ThreeRivers).
He arrived at the University of Guelph in1966 to teach and also complete his Ph.D. in hydrology. His teaching and research focused on water flow within the landscape.
“A great contribution Hugh made to the GRCA is likely the development of the hydrologic modeling system that we use to run all our flood forecasting,” said James Etienne, the GRCA’s senior water resources engineer. “And he probably taught half of the engineering staff at the GRCA.”
Flood forecasting model
Flood forecasting is a key activity of the GRCA, especially during the spring. Whiteley’s stream flow modeling system is called the Guelph All-Weather Storm-Event Runoff Model (GAWSER). It was developed 35 years ago as a tool for research on causes of pollution in the Great Lakes when Whiteley was part of an international group- the Pollution from Land Use Activities Reference Group (PLUARG).
The GAWSER model examined the impact of agricultural drainage on water quality of streams flowing into the Great Lakes. Whiteley applied this model in the Canagagigue Creek watershed, a tributary of the Grand River flowing through Elmira. When floodplain mapping was being updated by the GRCA in the mid ’80s, Lorrie Minshall, Whiteley’s former student and an employee of the GRCA (now retired), asked him to adapt his model to estimate flood flows for floodplain mapping. Two former students — Dwight Boyd, now the GRCA’s director of engineering, and Dr. Harold Schroeder — adapted GAWSER for use in the Grand River watershed. Several other conservation authorities in southern Ontario also use it.
“The model did such a great job of modelling the hydrology of the Speed and Eramosa River and later the Grand River, it was adapted into the forecast model used by GRCA today to help manage and forecast floods,” said Boyd.
When it comes to finding engineering solutions, Whiteley has always adhered to the mantra of the undergraduate engineering students at the University of Guelph – “all of us are smarter than any of us.” For this reason, he said his achievements have all been collaborative efforts with the contributions and support of his colleagues
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