The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s Wai Ying Lam was recognized in the Young Professional category of the 2021 Water’s Next Awards

Wai Ying Lam has been a member of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s (TRCA) Youth Council since the program’s inception in 2018. She has been working diligently to engage youth in environmental and water issues, including an emphasis on the importance of diversity and inclusion in conservation and the outdoors.

Lam’s true passion for water-related work shines in her efforts to communicate, mentor, and inspire other youth to act. Her work with the TRCA Youth Council has always been designed with the youth community in mind. She has used her advanced communication skills to translate complex scientific theory and break down complex social issues for a broad audience. Using these talents, she has made great strides with the TRCA Youth Council in elevating the youth voice by hosting a number of in-person and online events.

Lam has also been a driving force to keep the Youth Council engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, she led a very successful in-person event in partnership with Swim Drink Fish and Patagonia to highlight the importance of water issues in the Toronto region, including the value of recreation and maintaining healthy waterways for drinking water.

Image Credit: Vaughn Mangal.

When asked why she has decided to work in the water industry, Lam responded “For the variety! The water industry encompasses so many fields that it feels like there’s a lot for a young professional to explore. I’ve done work on water quality, stormwater infrastructure, and forestry and water, and feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.”

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Lam has brought this enthusiasm to discussions she has led on the importance of access to water and natural spaces through the development of a youth-led webinar discussing environmental racism and access to the outdoors. This webinar featured youth speakers, and the content was youth created, with the goal of elevating and recognizing the youth voice and experience. Furthermore, her work in academia is punctuated with a keen interest in the communication of scientific results to help support multi-sector partnerships in water science.

Lam is a PhD candidate at University of Toronto Scarborough. Her research is grounded in watershed hydrology and water quality of small boreal watersheds in northwestern Ontario (in the Dryden area). She also has equal enthusiasm for examining how multi-partner and industry-academic-government research collaborations can perform better by including more effective science communication and engagement.

In July 2019, Lam successfully defended her master’s thesis entitled “Quantifying chloride retention in urban stormwater management ponds using a mass balance approach.” She completed a master’s at the Ryerson Urban Water Research Centre.

Looking forward, Lam hopes to continue to share her love for advancing water-related science through accessible engagement, education, and outreach initiatives that benefit underrepresented groups.

This profile was written by Evan Pilkington, a seriously water-obsessed freelance writer, for the July/August 2021 issue of Water Canada.

The nomination period for the 2022 Water’s Next Awards is now open! Learn more about the awards here.

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