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Brian Richter

of The Nature Conservancy and University of Virginia

www.nature.org/water

Brian Richter has been a leader in river science and conservation for more than 20 years. He is the Director of Freshwater Strategies for The Nature Conservancy's Global Freshwater Program, which promotes sustainable water management with governments, corporations, and local communities. Brian has consulted on more than 120 river projects worldwide, with a focus on the challenge of meeting human needs for water and energy while sustaining healthy rivers and lakes. Brian serves as a water advisor to some of the world’s largest corporations and investment banks, and teaches a course on Water Sustainability at the University of Virginia. Brian has developed numerous scientific tools and methods to support river protection and restoration efforts, including the Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration software that is being used by water managers and ecologists worldwide. He has published many scientific papers on the importance of ecologically sustainable water management in international science journals, and co-authored a book with Sandra Postel entitled “Rivers for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature” (Island Press, 2003).

Can Desalination Help Save a Holy River?

The Jordan River of the Middle East has supported a long succession of empires and other human settlements for more than 8,000 years, but it took less than one generation of modern civilization to reduce the river to a trickle of sewage. Now, the ultra-modern technology of “desalination” — turning ocean water into fresh water…

The Australian Approach to Water Crisis: Work With Farmers

With water crises erupting in California, Texas, and the Colorado River Basin, state water managers throughout the western U.S. and our federal government could take some valuable lessons from the impressive progress made in Australia over the past decade. The Aussies have taken some giant leaps forward in their efforts to avert water shortages in…

To Understand Water, Learn the Math

 OK, I’ll admit to being a bit of a geek when it comes to water numbers. I never got all that excited about algebra in school, and college calculus was a real struggle.  But water numbers fascinate me.  If you’ve read any of my earlier blogs it will be apparent that this fascination borders on…

Short on Water? Don’t Blame it on the Rain

The common refrain in media stories about water shortages is that they are caused by droughts.  Don’t believe them. Droughts don’t cause water shortages.  People do. The water shortages appearing with increasing frequency and intensity around the globe are, regretfully, poignant signs of our society’s woeful inability to govern itself within limits, or to plan…

Four Water Resolutions for a Sustainable Planet

Most of us have been taught since childhood to be careful in our use of water.  We’ve been encouraged to take shorter showers, not let the water faucet run while brushing our teeth or shaving, or to install water-efficient plumbing fixtures such as low-flow toilets in our homes to conserve water. Each of these water-saving…

My Fellow Scientists: No More Chicken Little

Two weeks ago, hundreds of my fellow environmental scientists gathered in Bonn, Germany, for a conference on Water in the Anthropocene.  You may not yet be familiar with this term “anthropocene.”  It was coined by scientists to make the case that the influence of human behavior on the Earth’s atmosphere in recent centuries is so…

Tapped Out: How Will Cities Secure Their Water Future?

Today, global demands for food, energy, and shelter are putting unprecedented pressure on the resources of the planet. Water is at the heart of this crisis. In fact, more than half of the world’s cities are already experiencing water shortages on a recurring basis – based on findings from a study that I published, along…

A Christmas Present for the Colorado River

  Just days before Christmas, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released the results of a comprehensive study of the Colorado River basin’s water situation.  The “Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study” assessed a Christmas tree of more than 150 different proposals for balancing the water budget of the Colorado River. One of those…

Water Privatization: Let’s Cut the Hysteria

  In an editorial published this week in Nature, Frederick Kaufman, a journalism professor at the City University of New York, cries out against the perils of a global water futures market. He cautions that “Financial forecasters perceive that much like traditionally traded commodities — precious metals, for example — the useable water of the…

Visualizing Water

By Brian Richter with Jason Pearson of TRUTHstudio Help Us Communicate the Water Story of our Planet! In a poll taken last year, The Nature Conservancy found that 77% of Americans have absolutely no idea where their water comes from. This lack of understanding about how water is delivered to our homes is symptomatic of broader water…

The High Costs of Free Water

  When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water. – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1746 The problem with water, many economists say, is the fact that it is essentially free. That may come as a surprise to you if you receive a monthly bill from your local water utility.  But the economists…

Dam Removal Begins on Maine’s Penobscot River to Revive Historic Salmon Runs

The dams will fall and the salmon will rise. That may sound like prophesy, but it’s as certain as scientific predictions get these days, particularly in matters of ecological restoration. Yesterday, demolition of the Great Works Dam began on the Penobscot River in Maine.  Another dam, the Veazie, will come down next summer.  With the…

This Father’s Day, Turn Your Dad Into a Weather Man

  My father used to say that if you want a reliable weather forecast you should step outside and see if you get wet. There’s a lot of wisdom and truth in that advice.  For all the amazing technology we’ve developed for detecting and predicting the weather, there is absolutely no substitute for real-world, on-the-ground…

Saving a River, One Farm at a Time

David Reckford sees the beauty and the good in all things. With the eyes of a trained landscape architect, David peers down from our small plane flying over the Flint River in southwestern Georgia and marvels at the patchwork landscape of forest, farms, and small towns beneath us.  He sees stories in this landscape. As…

Damming the Poor: It’s Time to Create River Parks for People

Chief Omar Abdalla Hama was pleading with us to help save his people from starving. My colleagues from The Nature Conservancy and I were visiting Ozi Village along the Tana River in southeastern Kenya.  We were exploring opportunities to work with local communities, government officials, and other researchers on a sustainable development plan for the…