Soil-Water Systems Group



Water quality and sediment dynamics in the Sumas River Watershed

Sediments containing asbestos fibers and trace metals from a landslide in the headwaters of the Sumas River are being deposited during flood events on downstream agricultural lands, causing air quality and health concerns. Research is examining chemical interactions and modifications of the fibers and trace metals as they are transported downstream, and exposed to different water quality and weathering conditions.

Andisols and Water


In Colombia, soil derived from volcanic ash represent 12% of the country and are concentrated in the central cordillera. Andisols have unique chemical and physical properties related to the prevalence of short range order mineraloids (e.g. allophane), their high specific surface area and high variable charge. The high soil-water holding capacity of allophanic soils has implications for communities who depend on these upland regions for agricultural production and as water sources. XRD data indicate an andesitic ash; both organic matter and short range order compounds are related to water retention and release; and land use impacts soil-water retention but showed limited influence on other soil-water properties.

Soil Phosphorus in Agriculture

phosphorus01The use of phosphorus for nutrient management in intensive agriculture in the Sumas Prairie, BC is known to cause eutrophication in surrounding water bodies. Though phosphorus is assumed to be largely immobile in soil, being bound by calcium and aluminium/iron phosphates, its persistence and accumulation in soil and water requires investigation of inorganic and organic phosphorus dynamics under variable nutrient management regimes.

Innovations in communication and teaching



  • MSc and PhD in Soil Science (Research-based): A collaboration between the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and Faculty of Forestry, the inter-faculty Soil Science Graduate Program offers opportunities for advanced study and research leading to MSc and PhD degrees. Students are registered in the Faculty of Graduate Studies through either the Faculty of Land and Food Systems or Faculty of Forestry, depending upon their research interests. Areas of study include biometeorology, forest nutrition and nutrient cycling, mycorrhizal ecology, soil biology, soil quality and fertility, soil-plant interactions, ecosystem services, land and water systems.
  • Professional Masters in Land and Water Systems (MLWS): The goal of the innovative Master of Land and Water Systems program is to offer a professional degree which will serve both practicing resource managers and recent graduates from cognate undergraduate academic programs, the necessary credentials to address the emerging concerns of land and water resources conservation and management.

cropped-Brown_headshot_sm.jpg Sandra Brown Lecturer; Research Associate Characterization of soil–water properties of Andean soils; Role of soils in the terrestrial hydrological cycle; Assessing water allocation in Latin America
Maja Krzic Associate Professor (appointed jointly with Department of Forest & Conservation Sciences) Soil quality, application of information technology in soil science education, soil compaction
Les Lavkulich Professor Emeritus; Program Director, MLWS Program Mineralogy, surface reactions, soil genesis, mineral-organic interactions, natural science and policy development
Hans Schreier Professor Emeritus Watershed management, land-water Interactions, soil and water pollution
julie-wilson Julie Wilson Sessional Lecturer; Academic Coordinator, MLWS Program Communications for natural resource professionals, urban watershed management, watershed cumulative effects assessment. 

Adjunct Professors:

  • Ken Ashley, UBC Civil Engineering and Rivers Institute,BCIT. Ecosystem level experimental limnology, habitat restoration, freshwater ecology of salmonids, climate change, environmental engineering, struvite (P).
  • Paul Mitchell-Banks, AMEC Environment and Infrastructure, Burnaby. Resource planning, aboriginal economic development, environmental assessment.

Research Associates:

  • Maria-Cecilia Roa-Garcia. Issues of environment and development in Latin America, water access and equity, land-water interactions.

Emeriti (coming soon)



Baugé, S.M.Y., L.M. Lavkulich, J.E. Wilson and  H.E. Schreier. 2014. Comparison of surface properties of synthetic and soil struvite. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 94(2): 169-176.

Cornelis, Jean-Thomas, Dominique Weis, Les Lavkulich, Marie-Liesse Vermeire, Bruno Delvaux and Jane Barling. 2014. Silicon isotopes record dissolution and re-precipitation of pedogenic clay minerals in a podzolic soil chronosequence. Geoderma 235-236: 19-25.

Grand, Stephanie, Robert Hudsonand L.M. (Les) Lavkulich. 2014. Effects of forest harvest on soil nutrients and labile ions in Podzols of southwestern Canada: mean and dispersion effects. Catena 122: 18-26.

Holmes, Emma P. and L.M. (Les) Lavkulich. 2014. The effects of naturally occurring acids on the surfaceproperties of chrysotile asbestos. Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A,49: 1445–1452.

King, C., J. Dordel, M. Krzic and S. Simard. 2014. Integrating a mobile-based gaming application into a postsecondary forest ecology course. Nat. Sci. Educ. 43(1): 117-125. doi: 10.4195/nse2014.02.0004.

Krzic, M., S.F. Lamagna, R.F. Newman, G. Bradfield and B.M. Wallace. 2014. Long-term grazing effects on rough fescue grassland soils in southern British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 94(3): 337-345.

Krzic, M., J. Wilson, N. Basiliko, A. Bedard-Haughn, E. Humphreys, S. Dyanatkar, P. Hazlett, R. Strivelli, C. Crowley & L. Dampier. 2014. Soil 4 Youth: Charting new territory in Canadian high school soil science education. Nat. Sci. Educ. 43: 73-80. doi: 10.4195/nse2013.11.0034

Lavkulich, L.M., H.E. Schreier & J.E. Wilson. 2014. Effects of natural acids on surface properties of asbestos minerals and kaolinite. Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A, 49(6): 617-624.

Newman, R.F., M. Krzic and B.M. Wallace. 2014. Differing effects of biosolids on native plants in grasslands of southern British Columbia. Journal of Environmental Quality, 43(5): 1672-1678.

Roa-García, M.C., Pulido-Rozo, A. 2014. The challenge of urban-rural equity in water access for domestic use in Colombia. Journal of Environment and Sustainability, forthcoming. (In Spanish)

Roa-García, M.C. 2014. Equity, efficiency and scale in water allocation: trade-offs in a full world. Water Alternatives 7(2): 298-319.

Roa-García, M.C., Brown, S., Lavkulich, L. 2014. Stream closure and water allocation in the Colombian Andes. International Journal of Water, 8(2): 128-148.


Baugé, S.M.Y., H. E. Schreierand L.M. Lavkulich. 2013. Phosphorus and trace metals in serpentine affected soils of the Sumas Basin, British Columbia. Can. J. Soil Sci. 93: 359-367.

Baugé, S.M.Y., L.M. Lavkulich and H.E. Schreier. 2013. Serpentine affected soils and the formation of magnesium phosphates (struvite). Can. J. Soil Sci. 93: 161-172.

Boyle, C., P. Head, J. Hood, M. Lawton, I. Lowe, M, O’Connor, J. Peet, J, H. Schreier, H. and J. Vanegas. 2013. Transitioning to sustainability: Pathways, directions & Opportunities. Intern. J. Sustainable Dev’t, 16(3/4): 166-189. DOI: 10.1504/IJSD.2013.056560.

Dubé, M.G., J.E. Wilson, and J. Waterhouse. 2013. Accumulated state assessment of the Yukon River watershed: part II quantitative effects-based analysis integrating western science and traditional ecological knowledge. Integ. Environ. Assess. Manag’t. 9(3): 439-55.

Dubé, M., P. Duinker,., L. Greig, M. Carver, M. Servos, M. McMaster, B. Noble, H. Schreier, L. Jackson, and K. Munkittrick, 2013. A framework for assessing cumulative effects in watersheds: An introduction to Canadian Case studies. Integ.. Env. Assess. & Manag’t, 9(3): 363-369.

Grand, S. and L.M. Lavkulich. 2013. Potential influence of poorly crystalline minerals on soil chemistry in podzols of southwestern Canada. Eu. J. Soil Sci. 64: 651-660.

Harris, L., Roa-García, M.C., 2013. Recent Waves of Water Governance: Constitutional Reform and Resistance to Neoliberalization in Latin America (1990-2012). Geoforum, 50: 20-30.

Hund S., Brown S., L.M. Lavkulich and S.E.Oswald. 2013. Relating P lability in stream sediments to watershed land use via an effective sequential extraction scheme. Water, Air and Soil Pollution. 224: 1643-1656.

Krzic, M., Rachel A. Strivelli, Emma Holmes, Stephanie Grand, Saaed Dynanatkar, Les. M. Lavkulich and Chris Crowley 2013. Virtual soil monoliths: Blending traditional and web-based educational approaches. Nat. Sci. Educ. 42: 1-8.

Marie-Liesse, Vermeire, Les Lavkulich and Jean-Thomas, Cornélis. 2013. The interdependent relationship between C dynamics and soil-forming processes in a podzolic chronosequence under a temperate rainforest. Geophysical Research, 15: 4661-4668.

Roa-García, M.C., P. Urteaga-Crovetto, and R. Bustamante-Centeno, 2013. Water laws in the Andes: a promising precedent for challenging neoliberalism. Geoforum, 50: 20-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.Geoforum. 12.002


Conference Presentations

Brown S., M.C. Roa Garcia and I. Restrepo. 2013. La vulnerabilidad de organizaciones comunitarias del agua frente al cambio climático en Colombia. Agua 2013. Oct. 15-18, Cali, Colombia.

Dyanatkar, S., M. Krzic, J. Wilson, N. Sidles, C. Crowley, K. Watson, P. Sanborn, A. Bedard-Haughn & N. Basiliko. 2014. SOILx: A Location-Based Augmented Reality Learning Tool for Soil Science. Annual Conference of the Canadian Society of Soil Science. Banff, AB. May 4-8, 2014.

Krzic, M. and J. Wilson. 2013. Soil 4 Youth: An Online Soil Science Resource for High School Students and Educators. Catalyst Conference 2013 – BC Science Teachers Association. Vancouver, Canada. October 25, 2013.

Krzic, M., K. Watson, S. Dyanatkar, J. Wilson, C. Crowley, P. Sanborn, A. Bedard-Haughn, N. Basiliko, and N. Sidles. 2013. Location-based tool bringing soil science out of the classroom through mobile technology. Abstract no. 275-12 in Proceedings of the 2013 Annual Conference of the Soil Science Society of America. Nov 3-6, 2013. Tampa, FL.

Krzic, M., J. Wilson, N. Rogic, W. Engle. 2013. SoilWeb200 educational tool goes to UBC Wiki. Abstract no. 402-1 in Proceedings of the 2013 Annual Conference of the Soil Science Society of America. Nov 3-6, 2013. Tampa, FL.

Krzic, M., J. Wilson, N. Rogic, W. Engle. 2014. Learning Horizons: Implementing a Collaborative, Reusable, and Multi-Layered SoilWeb200 Educational Tool. Annual Conference of the Canadian Society of Soil Science. Banff, AB. May 4-8, 2014.

Krzic, M., K. Watson, S. Dyanatkar, J. Wilson, C. Crowley, P. Sanborn, A. Bedard-Haughn, and N. Basiliko. 2013. Location-based tool bringing soil science out of the classroom through mobile technology. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Canadian Society of Soil Science. Winnipeg, MB. July 22-25, 2013. p. 66.

Oka, G.A., L.M. Lavkulich and H. Schreier. 2014. Evaluating the Impact of Nutrient Management Regimes on Phosphorus Dynamics in the Sumas Prairie. Annual Conference of the Canadian Society of Soil Science. Banff, AB. May 4-8, 2014.

Roa García, M.C. 2013. Equity, efficiency and scale in water allocation: trade-offs in a full world. Annual meeting of the Latin American Studies Association, May 29 – June 1. Washington, USA.

Roa-García, M.C. 2013. Equity, efficiency and scale in water allocation: synergy or conflict? AGUA 2013, Oct. 15-18. Cali, Colombia.

Schreier, H. 2013. The importance of virtual water for Canadian Food Exports.. Changing the Water Paradigm. Annual Canadian Water Network Conference. Ottawa, ON, March 18-21. Invited presentation.

Schreier, H. 2013. Water & Food, Considerations for Canada’s Food Exports. Water & Agriculture Roundtable, Blue Economy Initiative Roundtable Event., RBC and CWN, Calgary June 26th, 2013, – Invited Presentation.

Schreier, H. 2013. Global Water Challenges. Sustainability and External Affairs Conference. Vancouver onvention Centre, Teck Corporation, Sept. 27, 2012 – Invited Presentation

Schreier, H. 2013. Integrating communities and watershed management. The blue, green and virtual water cycle. 41st B.C. Water & Wastewater Association Annual Conference, Kelowna, B.C. April 20-24, – Invited Presentation

Schreier, H. and J. Wood. 2013. Virtual Water and its implications for the future of Canada’s agriculture exports to a thirsty world. 4th Annual Canadian Farmland and AGRI-Business Investment Seminar, Bonnefield, Investment Foundation, Toronto, Oct. 23. Invited Keynote

Wilson, J.E. and L.M. Lavkulich. 2014. Connecting Professionals to the Academy: The Master of Land and Water Systems Program at UBC. Annual Conference of the Canadian Society of Soil Science. Banff, AB. May 4-8, 2014.