PLAN 597



15th September 2011

DUE 8.00am WEDNESDAY 27th October


You are a junior member of Bozena Michalski's staff in the Water Stewardship Division, B.C. Ministry of Environment, located in its Victoria headquarters. You are taking this course in a part-time master's program. Bozena is a civil engineer by training and has spent most of her 25 working years in the Division (or its predecessor Ministries and sections responsible for water) and recently became its Director.

As a contribution to staff development activities in parts of the Ministry responsible for water resources she has arranged for you to give a seminar to the Division on the first section of your course. In preparation for the one hour seminar she has asked you to draft a short memorandum (max. 1000 words; you may add one page for graphics, figures or tables but no appendices) which

  1. outlines the conceptual framework for planning in water resources management that is being developed in the first section of the course, and
  2. itemizes its implications for developing the Division and the capabilities of its staff.


What Is the B.C. Ministry of Environment?

To assist you in understanding the activities of the Division (and associated parts of the Provincial government dealing with water resources planning and management issues) you should visit and explore the Ministry's WWW site You will note the Ministry includes three major Divisions with responsibilities relating to water resources (see Water Stewardship Division , Environmental Protection Division, and the Ocean and Marine Fisheries Branch ) Also note that key responsibilities for drinking water reside in the B.C. Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport.

Why A Memo? And What Is It?

There are three main reasons why I am asking you to write a memo. First, it is extremely valuable to be able to communicate effectively in concise ways. Second, a memo is always written to one or more people in a context and thus it is essential to think about the audience and how to communicate effectively to them. Third, you will need to write many memos in your career.

In asking you to write a "memo" I do not have any particular memo format in mind. I am using the word "memo" to connote a short form of communication within your organization. As such it can take formats that convey information in other than flowing paragraphs of prose. Indentations and bulleted lists are format devices appropriate to this. Using (e.g....) where brief wording is used to indicate the particular kind of example you have in mind, is also a useful content device. In this assignment the memo is intended to be concise (i.e. 1000 word limit). Adding graphics, diagrams, figures, tables etc can sometimes be a very powerful way of summarizing and making evident the message you want to be taken from complex ideas or information. In most memos you are not generally expected to provide references as in academic and professional documents. However, there may well be points that you are making in relation to specific materials that need to be referred to unambiguously although not with a full bibliographic citation.

Improving Your Writing

For general advice on how to write a good memo in all kinds of contexts see the suggestions from the Writing Lab at Purdue University.

For good humour and candid advice on how to communicate effectively to audiences on matters relating to water you might want to look at Water Words That Work.

To help you in writing effectively in planning contexts, I have posted in Water Reading Materials a copy of "Righting Writing: An Excursion into Exposition" by James L. Garnett and S. Anne Sostromd.

To encourage you to proof-read with care, I take off 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2 marks for the first and successive typos, up to a maximum of 4 out of 100.

I deduct marks for exceeding the 1000 word limit as follows:

1100 - 1/2; 1200 - 1; 1300 - 2 etc.

Late assignments will incur a penalty of 1/2 for part or all of the first day and the penalty will double each day thereafter.