Water is one of the most vital resources on earth and is essential for life. Though considered a renewable resource, the use of water in some regions exceeds the speed at which it can be replenished. Added to this is the human activities that can adversely affect water quality and the livelihoods of communities living downstream. Knowing how to manage water use and water quality for the many demands we put on it isn’t a simple task but it’s undoubtedly an important one.
Integrated Water Management (IWM) takes a holistic view of the development and management of water, land, and related resources to maximize economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems. By looking at the big picture and considering the economic, social, political, and environmental factors at play, this approach can lead to sustainable and innovative solutions on a local or global.
By gaining knowledge of the technical, regulatory, market and social factors, students of Integrated Water Management are well-positioned to bridge the gap between practitioners and policymakers. Graduates can find careers in several industries and work as water quality technicians, hydrologists, environmental planning, and more.
How can you know that studying Integrated Water Management (IWM) is right for you? We spoke to students of SAIT’s 2-year Integrated Water Management diploma to hear about why they chose to take this program and what aspects of the program appealed to them the most.
Making a Career Change
Some students who choose to study Integrated Water Management do so to help with a career transition. This could be a transition to a completely new sector, or between industries.
A particular interest in water and the design around water systems drew program alumni Brent St. Goddard to the field.
“I have always had an interest and fascination with water and the environment. When the IWM program was announced I happened to be looking for a career change and it was a good fit”. – Brent St. Goddard
In addition to his interest, Brent’s experience left him confident in career outcomes post-graduation and he explains that the “program is well designed for those interested in various aspects of environmental work and studies, with a focus on water. It is a dynamic program that allows students to examine the many facets of the water industry, with multiple different avenues available to graduates”.
Jennifer Wayte-Trzok decided to study IWM at SAIT to aid her transition away from the oil and gas industry and into a different type of resource management. With experience as an engineer, she believes that taking the Integrated Water Management diploma helped her stand out from other engineers when applying for water-focused roles especially when it came to being able to demonstrate her knowledge of key terms and water regulations.
Other graduates of the diploma also used this to change careers after experiencing a career plateau and found studying IWM allowed them to follow their interest in water and environmental issues and turn it into a fulfilling career.
Gaining Hands-on Experience
Gaining the hands-on experience that’s often required for environmental roles can be difficult. One of the benefits of studying Integrated Water Management at SAIT is that you’ll get fieldwork experience from participating in fields schools, off-campus facility tours, and virtual reality labs. You’ll also have the opportunity to work directly with industry through a work-integrated capstone research project. SAIT is continuously working with the water industry to train its students in the most up-and-coming water-related equipment and skills such as sustainability and climate change, erosion and sediment control, groundwater remediation, stormwater modelling, and low-impact development.
Nishat Rahman, who is a second-year part-time student feels that “[this degree] helped 100% [in getting my current role]. With my previous degree it just wasn’t as interactive”. In terms of applying the skills learned to her newfound jobs as a junior hydrogeologist at WSP, Nishat says that of the things she learned in the program, she has already used a lot of them so far in her current role.
For Matrins Aineru, an international student at SAIT, this program gave him the opportunity to network with people and get access to the industry which he wasn’t getting before. He now works for WSP in Canada and believes being able to showcase the diverse skills he studied at SAIT and use the right industry terminology in his interview helped him get the role.
“I think the diploma helped me get my role at WSP, in my resume I highlighted certain aspects of the course that were relevant. I highlighted specific courses that were relevant, so I included environmental water governance, data management and analytics, fieldwork…having knowledge of some laws and environmental regulations in Alberta and Canada was key during the interviews” – Matrins Aineru
Building Regulatory Knowledge
The holistic nature of Integrated Water Management means that you not only get technical skills, but you’ll also become aware of regulations and laws that are intertwined with water resources and water management.
Students of SAIT’s Integrated Water Management Course can learn about these regulations and how to fill out regulatory applications, and many have found this has helped them in their current employment.
“Regulatory knowledge we covered in the program is the basis of what we do every day – maybe I didn’t realize at the time how important it was but knowledge of the regulations is required every day,” said Jennifer.
For Matrins, learning about regulations and laws surrounding water management in Canada was important to him as an international student looking for employment in Canada. Before studying, he’d found it hard to get interviews without experience of Canadian legislation and believes that gaining this knowledge helped him secure his current role within a global organization.
Taking a holistic approach
It’s not just the practical and legislatorial knowledge that you gain through studying Integrated Water Management. The program instructs you to consider all the various factors surrounding our use and management of water. For Jaime Stefan Marquez, IWM 2021 it was this approach that he found valuable.
“[The program was] eye-opening in the importance of equal stakeholder engagement and maintaining a good balance for social, economic and environmental interests: the triple bottom line”.
Nishat felt similarly saying that she never realized that in addition to the technical aspects of working in water, gaining an understanding of the management aspects such as risk management was helpful because she uses this knowledge on a daily basis for almost every project she’s worked on since graduating.
Ready to see where studying Integrated Water Management could take you?
Learn more about SAIT’s diploma or download our guide on career pathways in this field.