© Jeff Opperman
Diary of a Water Year

October 1st marks the start of the 'Water Year' in the US. Each day for the next 12 months, WWF's Global Lead Freshwater Scientist, Jeff Opperman, will post one of his photos with a water theme and briefly describe why that theme is important to people. Often these themes will matter to hundreds of millions of people or even billions. Sometimes they will matter to just a few, such as Jeff and his family.

This won't be a water-year-long educational course but more like an extended contemplation on connections that matter. After all connectivity is an essential characteristic of freshwater ecosystems. And lies at the core of what makes us human.

© Jeff Opperman

day 247

Wren jumping into East Austin Creek, tributary to Russian River, in Sonoma County California.

© Jeff Opperman

day 246

Happy World Bicycle Day! A fish investigates if it's true that "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" (Irina Dunn). River Limnat, Zurich. I visited the WWF Schweiz office in 2018 and they took me for some Limmatschwimmen for lunch! I snorkeled with fish (and a bike).

No better city for Water Year to feature for World Bicycle Day than Zurich. The WWF Schweiz
office was full of bicycles and the city full of people walking and biking to the Flussbad Oberer Letten for open swimming.

© Jeff Opperman

day 245

Wren returned last week after finishing freshman year at college, so here's a picture of her doing 6th grade homework on a rock in the Chagrin River (September, 2015).

© Jeff Opperman

day 244

A thread on rivers and reefs and how land degradation can harm reefs, with the impact delivered via rivers. While sediment from rivers is essential to maintain deltas, and sediments & nutrients promote productivity in nearshore habitats, elevated sediment levels can negatively impact reefs.

The photo is of a river discharging sediment into coastal areas of Puerto Rico that support reefs. Sediment can smother, abrade, shade, & inhibit coral recruitment (e.g. shift toward algae). Managing land to reduce excess erosion can be essential for both rivers & reefs!

© Jeff Opperman

day 243

Otters were extirpated in Ohio by early 1900s; Ohio Division Wildlife began recovery in 1986. Otters are now in 83 of 88 Ohio counties. Photo of otters at Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The kids always loved to see them.

© Jeff Opperman

day 242

Tennessee Valley Authority was founded 90 years ago this month. TVA had huge influence on its region & global water management. A thread on this influence, through the lens of the art that TVA influenced. A photo of Luca looking at fish in Big Creek (Smokies NP) in Tennessee River watershed in 2010.

© Jeff Opperman

day 241

Your silent tents of green   
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,   
The memory shall be ours.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Decoration "Day"

Flowers on floodplain of the Chagrin River

© Jeff Opperman

day 240

Luca and his friends playing some sort of game in the Chagrin River.

© Jeff Opperman

day 239

Rachel Carson was born on this day 116 years ago. Her Silent Spring raised the specter of a world with toxic water and birds silenced by eating poisoned insects, but she had another book perhaps even more relevant for today. See the photo of a Carolina Wren feeding babies a fishing spider. 

Carson also wrote "The Sense of Wonder," an invitation to adults to rekindle a relationship to rocks, water, bugs and stars they may have had once but lost somewhere along the way. Introducing a child to that lost world is the surest path back. She wrote: "A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.

I should ask that each child should receive a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years.

The sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from our source of strength." -- Rachel Carson, "The Sense of Wonder." While Silent Spring was a letter to the world that changed the world, The Sense of Wonder feels like a letter written to you.

© Jeff Opperman

day 238

Yesterday was National Wine Day, so here's a picture of vineyards on the plain that slopes toward Lake Trasimeno in Umbria, Italy.

© Jeff Opperman

day 237

Sunrise on Mississippi River in New Orleans CCR may have written the song, but Tina Turner gave it wings. And a jet engine. 

Big wheel keep on turning
Proud Mary keep on burning
Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river

© Jeff Opperman

day 236

Earlier this month was world migratory bird day and while searching bird photos I came across this one: Luca & Wren looking for birds (see binos) in Ría Celestun Biosphere Reserve (Yucatán, Mexico).

© Jeff Opperman

day 235

Happy World 𝗧𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗹𝗲 Day! ⁣ Photo of Wren holding a baby Cantor’s giant softshell turtle in Cambodia in 2013, part of a Conservation Organization recovery project for the turtle. Check out the New York Times blog: Hope Amid the Dams and Dangers.

© Jeff Opperman

day 234

On Biodiversity Day 2023, let's celebrate the incredible diversity of fish in the Mekong - more than 850 species. Here is Luca in 2013 with a giant gourami from Mekong in Cambodia. A new report has just been released by WWF identifying 19 new species of fish in Mekong.

© Jeff Opperman

day 233

Ramps season has just ended. A photo from 2016: Wren washing, in a small stream, ramps we’d just collected.

© Jeff Opperman

day 232

Spring along the Chagrin River.

© Jeff Opperman

day 231

Today is Endangered Species Day.
According to he EPA: "More than one third of threatened & endangered species live only in wetlands, & nearly half use wetlands at some point in their lives." Sunset in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (CA).

© Jeff Opperman

day 230

Happy 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗠𝘂𝘀𝗲𝘂𝗺 𝗗𝗮𝘆! The kids in curtain of water vapor with the word "water" projected in various language. At a very cool exhibition on water Great Lakes Science Center in 2010.

© Jeff Opperman

day 229

I started Water Year in response to becoming empty nesters. I've had this image (on the left) of empty Great Blue Heron nests in a rookery, symbolic of kids taking flight. But the thing about Great Blue Herons & rookeries: they come back in spring. On way to pick Luca up at airport..

© Jeff Opperman

day 228

My social media feed is basically just photos of rivers or Bean, our part-Chihuahua pup so I can't believe I missed a chance to combine those loves: Sunday was 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗖𝗵𝗶𝗵𝘂𝗮𝗵𝘂𝗮 𝗔𝗽𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗗𝗮𝘆! So here's Stream Bean.

© Jeff Opperman

day 227

Today is Luca's 21st birthday! Here's a photo of him from April, 2014 fishing for steelhead in the Chagrin River. Everything I know about fishing, I've learned from Luca!

© Jeff Opperman

day 226

Did some pruning today around the house. Managed to slice the coax cable, knocking out internet. Drove to hardware store to get parts and passed a detention pond. Saw two huge snapping turtles. Looks like fighting but I think they are mating.

© Jeff Opperman

day 225

World Migratory Bird Day 6 
Today is 𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱 𝗠𝗶𝗴𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆 𝗕𝗶𝗿𝗱 𝗗𝗮𝘆! A great egret in a cypress swamp. Find the link to a cute video of a spoon-billed sandpiper’s incredible journey. Will Spoonie make the finish line?

© Jeff Opperman

day 224

World Migratory Bird Day 5
Ruddy shelducks taking off from Indawgyi Lake in Myanmar. Shelducks breed in central and eastern Asia and over-winter in South and Southeast Asia.

© Jeff Opperman

day 223

World Migratory Bird Day 4 
Fulvous whistling ducks in the Tana River delta, Kenya. Here's a short video celebrating migratory birds: "Flyways to Get Them Home."

© Jeff Opperman

day 222

World Migratory Bird Day 3
Black-necked stilts in Ria Celestún Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Stilts are shorebirds that use wetlands and shorelines, with some migrating from the United States to Mexico & Central America for the winter.

© Jeff Opperman

day 221

World Migratory Bird Day 2
A great blue heron in the Chagrin River (NE Ohio). Great Blue Herons undertake long-distance migrations (e.g., from Great Lakes down to Central America & Caribbean) and depend on rivers, lakes & wetlands to hunt.

© Jeff Opperman

day 220

This coming Saturday is World Migratory Bird Day. Wetlands, lakes & rivers are crucial habitat for many migratory birds, so all week Water Year will feature migratory birds, like these African sacred ibises in Tana River Delta, Kenya.

© Jeff Opperman

day 219

With passing of Gordon Lightfoot, I was reading up on Edmund Fitzgerald: the boat traveling with the Edmund Fitzgerald through the storm-the last to communicate with him and the boat that searched for survivors-was the Arthur Anderson. I remembered this photo I took in 2010 (Huron OH).

© Jeff Opperman

day 218

Seven-year old Luca shoulders a heavy pack at the start of a kilometer-long portage in Algonquin Provincial Park in 2009 [narrator voice: he didn't actually carry the pack].

© Jeff Opperman

day 217

Last weekend was Merle Fest, an incredible music festival in North Carolina. Wren and I have gone since 2014, but, now away at college, this is first year without her! We always camp at Sewerfest on grounds of a wastewater treatment plant, a real celebration of water infrastructure!!

© Jeff Opperman

day 216

Remembering May 4, 1970
What if you knew her and Found her dead on the ground? How can you run when you know? -Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

"These songs are things that we need right now" Jason Isbell and David Crosby introducing "Ohio."

© Jeff Opperman

day 215

Singer, songwriter & activist Pete Seeger born 104 years ago today.
To My Old Brown Earth:
Guard well our human chain,
Watch well you keep it strong,
As long as sun will shine.

And this our home,
Keep pure and sweet & green,
For now I'm yours
And you are also mine

© Jeff Opperman

day 214

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead. Gordon Lightfoot died yesterday, on Great Lakes Awareness Day. He certainly did his part to celebrate the Lakes in song Luca and a Great Lakes freighter in Cleveland, the ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald's destination.

© Jeff Opperman

day 213

Today is 𝗚𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝗟𝗮𝗸𝗲𝘀 𝗔𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗗𝗮𝘆! This group enjoying sunset on Lake Michigan seems very aware that the Lakes generate over $50B/year for recreation and provide drinking water to 40M people from 20% of world's freshwater.

© Jeff Opperman

day 212

Wetland plants in an abandoned canal that leads from site of an old dam on Chagrin River (that blew out in a flood in 90's) toward a control structure and pipe that was featured in the movie Kings of Summer (see canal & pipe in film clip).

© Jeff Opperman

day 211

River Art 12
Henry Church Rock along the Chagrin River in South Chagrin Reservation of Cleveland Metroparks. Church was a blacksmith, spiritualist, and artist. He carved the images in the rock around 1885.

© Jeff Opperman

day 210

River Art 11
Rivers create habitat but not just for fish. Rivers also create and maintain habitat for iconic wildlife such as rhinos & elephants. Inspired by rhino statues. Check out Jeff Opperman's article in Forbes: Not Just Fish: Rhinos Need Rivers Too.
Kennedy Center: Green ribbons, rambunctious rivers, resets & rhinos.

© Jeff Opperman

day 209

River Art 10
Lake Erie as a Rothko painting (No. 11, 1963). The thread shows original photo, sunset on Lake Erie in June of 2012, no changes except for cropping, & then series of Rothkos based on different cropping. 

© Jeff Opperman

day 208

River Art 9
Lake Erie as a Rothko painting (Untitled, 1969). The lake photo is flipped, so the water is at the top to better match the colors (original photo in next tweet); otherwise no changes to photo.

© Jeff Opperman

day 207

River Art 8
Left: The floodplain of the Pripyat River, Belarus (Google Earth). Right: "Gothic" by Jackson Pollock (1944). The Pripyat meanders & dances across its floodplain. A note from Pollock indicates Gothic was inspired by Picasso's "Three Dancers."

© Jeff Opperman

day 206

River Art 7
The Shape of Water by Celia Ledón from RiverRun festival which just finished over the weekend. The Kennedy Center produced a great video featuring voices of the artists, Henk Ovink & WWF scientists talking rivers & art.

© Jeff Opperman

day 205

River Art 6
Temporary art installation "Wasp's Nest" by Ron Shelton along Chagrin River. Made from discarded kitty litter containers & detergent bottles; intended to express our over-use of plastic & the problem of plastics in our rivers, lakes & oceans.

© Jeff Opperman

day 204

River Art 5
Happy Earth Day! A soundtrack for Earth Day. Actually 2: one from my generation & one from my daughter's (2 Spotify playlists in link). Wren's playlist includes the avett bros. Avetts in front of Cuyahoga River, CLE 2022

© Jeff Opperman

day 203

River Art 4
Happy birthday Rome! The eternal city has a start date: 21 April 753 BC. Today is 2776 AUC; Ab urbe condita, "from the founding of the city" Paola's dad & the 1:250 scale model of ancient Rome in Museum of Roman Civilization, with Tiber winding through thread.

© Jeff Opperman

day 202

River Art 3
"Of All the People In All the World" at Kennedy Center's River Run Festival. Stan’s Café Theatre creates this art in which a grain of rice equals one person. These are both art and three-dimensional infographics.

© Jeff Opperman

day 201

River Art 2
Kennedy Center: Raiz Campos is a brilliant graffiti artist from Brazil whose work depicts people and nature of the Amazon basin. Here is a jaguar-the most 'aquatic' of big cats-painted on a mat woven by indigenous people from fibers of a floodplain plant.

© Jeff Opperman

day 200

River Art 1
Is this a Google Earth image of a South American river valley? Nope - it's a rug-like tapestry woven by Alexandra Kehayoglou at Kennedy Center's River Run Festival.

© Jeff Opperman

day 199

Today is 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗕𝗮𝘁 𝗔𝗽𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗗𝗮𝘆! River corridors provide essential habitat for bats with riverine productivity an important source of insect food. Mexican free-tail bat colony, Yolo Bypass, floodplain of Sacramento River.

© Jeff Opperman

day 198

Like Picasso, the artistry of Lake Michigan has a Blue Period.

© Jeff Opperman

day 197

Happy World Art Day! Rivers have long inspired art and today, art can inspire action for rivers. Kennedy Center's River Run Festival celebrates the intertwined inspiration of art & rivers. This coming week I'll feature art from the Kennedy Center. Check out my blog post about art and rivers.

© Jeff Opperman

day 196

Today is World Dolphin Day - six species of river dolphin swim across Asia & South America. Truly an amazing site to see a dolphin breathing or breaching in a river. Learn all about river dolphins here. The photo is an infographic that Wren made on cooperative fishing between people and river dolphins in Irrawaddy River, Myanmar. Check out the blog post in New York Times about conservation issues for river dolphins in the Mekong and the blog post in Forbes about the amazing practice of cooperative fishing between river dolphins and people in the Irrawaddy River, Myanmar.

© Jeff Opperman

day 195

Crossing to Safety Today is 30th anniversary of the passing of Wallace Stegner, a writer of a non-fiction water classic (Beyond the 100th Meridian) & novels with beautiful writing Kids crossing Wiley Creek (2008), a creek that's always a challenge to cross. Wiley Creek is a tributary to the Chagrin River. In summer you can walk through the creek; winter and spring it can be a challenge. Not sure what happened to these boulders from 2008 - sometimes we had to wade, sometimes large wood is used that spans the creek. I'm re-reading Stegner's Crossing to Safety right now, a story of friendship, career, family, & how those change with aging and the passage of time. It reads a bit differently at 52 compared to when i first read it at 28...

© Jeff Opperman

day 194

The Great Steelhead Rescue 11 years ago, dozens of river monsters showed up in our backyard creek. A story of blown-out dams, bucket-brigade rescues, & a neighborhood in love with giant fish. Story in this article in Outsider Magazine.

© Jeff Opperman

day 193

One of my best wildlife photos: matriarch of the Salmon River wolf pack on Vancouver Island. Just kidding, it's International Pet Day and that's Birch crossing the Chagrin River. 

© Jeff Opperman

day 192

Recently concluded UN Water Conference featured evolving view of water: from resource to source of multiple values when managed within resilient systems. Nature based solutions improve water quality, decrease flood risk, & provide recreation & habitat in cities.

© Jeff Opperman

day 191

Just got back from a weekend visiting Wren at college. Here's a photo from five years, Wren kayaking on Indawgyi Lake, Myanmar, one of the largest lakes in Southeast Asia.

© Jeff Opperman

day 190

Sulphur Springs in South Chagrin Reservation in Cleveland Metroparks.

© Jeff Opperman

day 189

I’ve managed to post a water-themed photo for 188 days straight & then realized it’s ten to midnight on day 189 & I better find a photo on my phone. So here’s clouds & their shadows on Lake Erie from two weeks ago. I have good excuse…it’s my birthday

© Jeff Opperman

day 188

Tomorrow is World Health Day. Running along rivers - or really any time spent along rivers - is good for physical and mental health. Here’s an essay from ⁦Amy Kober on mental health benefits of time spent along rivers.

© Jeff Opperman

day 187

Free-flowing rivers are Born to Run. I saw Bruce Springsteen in 2009. I had just started writing about conservation & wrote one of my 1st posts about what we can learn from Springsteen. Luca posed for the photo. 14 years later Luca & I are going to Springsteen tonight!

© Jeff Opperman

day 186

A celebration of Muddy Waters. Blues legend Muddy Waters was born on this day 110 years ago. Though too much sediment can be problem, muddy waters also build: land, civilization, music. Drone photo from my son of a confluence of two rivers, one carrying lots of sediment.

© Jeff Opperman

day 185

Our 1st civilizations arose in river valleys as people learned to plant crops in rich soil left behind from centuries of floods. More than crops emerged: so did art & culture. The Kennedy Center celebrates that story with RiverRun Festival. RiverRun is a festival celebrating "the world’s rivers, the cultures they have spawned, & their role as life-sustaining and art-inspiring arteries that course through our planet."

© Jeff Opperman

day 184

Small boat on the Irrawaddy River near Mandalay, Myanmar, November 2016.

© Jeff Opperman

day 183

Setting the nets, Mekong River, Laos. Rivers are central to the food, culture and art of people all over the world. On Tuesday, the Kennedy Center kicks of the RiverRun festival. The River Run festival celebrates "the world’s rivers, the cultures they have spawned, and their role as life-sustaining and art-inspiring arteries that course through our planet."

The Mekong will be featured on April 7. "In Mekong: SOUL, Emmy Award®–winning musician Vân-Ánh Võ, composer Jonathan Berger, & the Apollo Chamber Players tell three powerful and multi-sensory stories about life on the Mekong River of Southeast Asia."

My take in Forbes on the long history of rivers inspiring art and how, at this crucial time, art can inspire action for rivers. Art, Culture, And Food: A River Runs Through Them

© Jeff Opperman

DAY 182

Steelhead in an unnamed tributary of Chagrin River, which flows thru backyard of our old house. At least unnamed on USGS & other maps. My daughter gave it a name: Cosmo Zooey. We had a great adventure there with steelhead 11 years ago.

© Jeff Opperman

day 181

It's Opening Day for baseball, one of the sure signs that Spring is here, or at least trying hard to get here. Luca working on his fastball along the Tiber River in Rome, 2010.

© Jeff Opperman

day 180

Yesterday was 60th anniversary of release of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. We hadn't let Luca see that movie yet, but he had learned to count & he didn't seem to like the number of seagulls between him & L. Erie.

© Jeff Opperman

day 179

On day 179 of Water Year we mark 179th anniversary of founding of Chagrin Falls, OH in March, 1844. I've been taking photos of the High Falls on Chagrin River for 16 of those years, showing its changing beauty over the seasons & also...hydrological variability.

© Jeff Opperman

day 178

Who's the greatest mudskipper of them all?
Who can skip thru mud with the greatest of ease?
What kind of wonderful guy?
Who can crawl w/ out scraping his knees?
Who's got segmented eyes?
It's Muddy Mudskipper Mudskipper, Mekong Delta, Vietnam; lyrics: Ren & Stimpy

© Jeff Opperman

day 177

Happy 99th birthday to Hocking Hills State Park - the most visited park in Ohio. The first purchase of land for the park was in 1924; somewhere I read it was on March 26, but can't find that again! Waterfall at Ash Cave.

© Jeff Opperman

day 176

Today is Paola's birthday! Paola and the kids on the Mekong River in northern Cambodia, a decade of water years ago. 

© Jeff Opperman

day 175

It's National Puppy Day. But what kind of world will this puppy grow up in? A world with healthier rivers & wetlands due to the Freshwater Challenge launched yesterday at the UN Water Conference!

© Jeff Opperman

day 174

Start spreadin' the news, the Journey of Water ended in NYC. Run Blue campaign of Mina Guli culminated in NYC. If you're in NYC for UN Water and NYC Water Week come to the event this evening featuring Mina & the Journey of Water documentary.

© Jeff Opperman

day 173

On World Water Day we celebrate people who run for rivers because rivers run for people. We celebrate the work to keep rivers connected & to repair & reconnect where we can & we celebrate the power of water to help us stay connected to each other & to what matters.

© Jeff Opperman

DAY 172

Today is Day 6 of biggest World Water Run ever and also International Day of Forests, with the theme Forests and Health. As exercise, running through forests is very healthy for people; running through forests is also healthy for rivers for clean water.

© Jeff Opperman

day 171

Day 5 of biggest World Water Run ever. It's also World Frog Day! Among all aquatic animals (<500 g weight division), I'd guess frogs are the fastest runners. Join Mina Guli & 1000s of people (& frogs) across the world for World Water Run.

© Jeff Opperman

day 170

Day 4 of biggest World Water Run ever. This is clearly a freshwater photo, but how is it a running photo? The fish are running behind us. Luca & I watching salmon run up the Tuolumne River, California in 2002. In the selfie with him and me in the river you can see him looking right at the turbulence of salmon battling for position. May be why he's so into fishing.

© Jeff Opperman

day 169

Day 3 of biggest World Water Run ever when running in Rome in 2018. Clearly a running photo, but how is it a freshwater photo? Those are the Baths of Caracalla behind her; built around 210 CE, they were Rome's 2nd largest public baths, fed by the 91 km Acqua Marcia.

© Jeff Opperman

day 168

Day 2 of biggest World Water Run ever. The photo is of the WWF team 4 years ago after (collectively) running marathon at Mosi-oa-Tunya (Vic Falls). This year, Mina Guli is finishing 200 marathons in 1 year for water and here is a theme song to celebrate that.

© Jeff Opperman

day 167

Today is Day 1 of the biggest World Water Run ever (Mar 16-22). Add your voice (and kms!) to global call for action next week at the UN Water Conference. 4 years ago, the WWF freshwater Africa team was running for water at the Mosi-oa-Tunya (Vic Falls). 

© Jeff Opperman

day 166

#JourneyOfWater 11

To recap Journey: water doesn't come from a tap, but from nature. Nature protects water for 10M in New York City. As rivers, water provides diverse benefits nature based solutions = multiple benefits, including access to nature Documentary for NY water week and UN Water.

© Jeff Opperman

day 165

Journey of Water 10

Today is the Day of Actions for Rivers. This Journey has focused on water as an essential resource that comes from nature. But too easy to think of water as *just* a resource, a commodity measured by volume. In the form of a river, diverse other values emerge. Rivers aren't just flows of water, they are also flows of sediment; silt & sand carried by rivers build & maintain deltas, home to 500 million people & crucially important agricultural regions. Rivers build land, crucial for adapting to climate change; Amazon & Nile deltas. Rivers that remain connected to floodplains are vitally important for reducing flood risk. Through their water, sediment, nutrients & habitat, rivers directly support nearly 1/3 of all food produced on the planet. Oceans have 10,000 times more water by volume...but rivers & other freshwater habitats have more fish species! Oceans have 10,000 times more water by volume...but rivers & other freshwater habitats support about 40% of all fish production (capture & aquaculture combined). And of course river water is essential as a resource that can be measured by volume, providing drinking water to 2 billion people. Photos show a river in Catskills, part of NYC water system that provides drinking water to nearly 10 million people. Today is also International Butterfly Day, so let's remember that rivers aren't just important for aquatic species, they also provide habitat and movement corridors for terrestrial animals, from butterflies to elephants. Rivers and muddy waters create land. But rivers and Muddy Waters also created rock and roll. The Mississippi flood of 1927 was a major driver of the Great Migration of black people from rural south to cities such as Chicago. The delta blues also traveled north and...in Chicago, the delta blues got plugged in and became the Chicago Blues (Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf & others). Rock ‘n’ roll is a big river w/ many tributaries, but its true heart may be the primal beat & yearning soul of the electrified Delta Blues. All of these values of rivers--food source, resource for risk reduction & climate adaptation, biodiversity powerhouse, cultural foundation--are described in our report Valuing Rivers.

© Jeff Opperman

day 164

Journey of Water 9

The jourey of water is not just source to sea. Like me flying back to Ohio from NYC, water also makes a round trip, flying sea to source in the form of clouds and landing as precipitation - as I could see from airplane window taking off from NYC.

© Jeff Opperman

day 163

Journey of Water 8

Our Journeyof Water ended on east end of Long Island, intersecting with my own family's journeys. For 20 years, we visited family in East Hampton & Hampton Bays, where Luca learned to fish for "snappers" that move into tidal creeks in August.

© Jeff Opperman

day 162

Journey of Water 7

Broodstock oysters that support aquaculture on Long Island, NY. If they don't evaporate, the journey of most water molecules on land ends in the sea. Clean freshwater flowing into bays & estuaries is essential for productive coastal fisheries. 

© Jeff Opperman

DAY 161

Journey of Water 6

Multipurpose benefits of nature based solutions, this time with feelings! Journey included Groundwork HV students & Adam Met from AJR Brothers, at a wetland at Snug Harbor. Later, students were asked to put nature based solutions in their own words - they answered with love.

© Jeff Opperman

DAY 160

Journey of Water 5

Glass eels (aka babies coming from Sargasso Sea) collected at a fish ladder on Richmond Creek, Staten Island, part of NYC Water Blue Belt which combines nature based solutions for stormwater management with restoration & public access to nature.

© Jeff Opperman

day 159

Journey of Water 4

I've been sharing a Journey of Water focused on NYC. But on 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗪𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻'𝘀 𝗗𝗮𝘆 we should remember that far too many women walk kilometers every day to access clean water (photo: Kenya 2011). Check our why the water crisis is a women's crisis

© Jeff Opperman

DAY 158

Journey of water 3

New York City water starts in "forever wild" forests & well-managed land, flows to reservoirs & then down 100s of miles of tunnels & aqueducts to reach the taps of nearly 10 million people &, crucially, every day, millions of bagels & pizza crusts.

© Jeff Opperman

DAY 157

Journey of Water 2
Ashokan Reservoir, NY

The New York City water system was a feat of labor & has been called a marvel of engineering & gold standard for urban water supply All true, but what stands behind it? The photo shows: natural systems are the system's foundation.

© Jeff Opperman

DAY 156

Journey of Water 1

Our journey started high in the Catskills of NY. This crystal clear stream will be in New York City faucets in a few months. It's the largest unfiltered water system in U.S. Why? Dedication to healthy land, soils & forests at the source.

© Jeff Opperman

DAY 155

Wrapping up 4 days in & around NYC filming Journey of Water exploring where New York City water comes from & nature based solutions to water & nature challenges. For next week, water year will show the journey. New York City eventually worked with local communities & land owners to improve protection of land & improve water quality in its system. A great example of nature based solutions for water that also provides recreation for people and habitat.

© Jeff Opperman

DAY 154

Today is World Wildlife Day. Rivers aren't only important for aquatic wildlife, they also provide crucial habitat and migratory corridors for terrestrial wildlife, such as these elephants following the Zambezi in Zambia

© Jeff Opperman

DAY 153

A stream in the Catskill Mountains of New York the day after the region's first real snowfall - which happened on the last day of February.

© Jeff Opperman

DAY 152

7 Wonders of the Water World -  #8 Your Local River

Turns out that if you count up the 7 wonders of the ancient world, you get to 8. So the 7 wonders of the water world also has 8, and the 8th is whatever stream, river, pond, lake or wetland near to you.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 151

7 Wonders of the Water World - #7 Laurentian Great Lakes

2 lessons: Freshwater systems underpin economies! (Great Lakes directly generate > 1.5 million jobs) and freshwater systems can come back! Today is 55th anniversary of the Ohio Scenic Rivers Act, one of many steps to restore the lakes. Spanning nearly 100,000 square miles, the Great Lakes are largest freshwater system on planet, holding approximately 20% of all the world's fresh (surface) water.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 150

7 Wonders of the Water World - #6 Freshwater systems of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA).

Freshwater systems are crucial for terrestrial wildlife! KAZA features iconic freshwater systems & amazing wildlife, which depend on the water. At 520,000 km2, KAZA is roughly the size of France and 50x the size of Yellowstone National Park, spanning territory across Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It encompasses iconic water features: the Okavango Delta, the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 149

7 Wonders of the Water World - #5 Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia).

Freshwater holds magic! "If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water" (Loren Eiseley, 1957). Plitvice is a magical landscape of cascading lakes connected by streams & waterfalls. Calcium carbonate in the water precipitates out to form natural dams, called tufa barriers, that separate the lakes into a sequence of steps, w/ falls and beautiful streams flowing through the forest between lakes. Depending on levels of minerals (and angles of sunlight), the water color ranges from emerald green to deep blue to dull grey. Everywhere the water is crystal clear so you can just look down and see fish, such as trout or pike, swimming around. (Photo from 2016)

© Jeff Opperman

Day 148

7 Wonder of the Water World: #4 Springs, caverns & groundwater of Texas

Freshwater is essential but often hidden and overlooked! Groundwater provides 55% of water used in Texa; like much of
the world, that groundwater is declining, threatening supplies & unique ecosystems.

Photos are from Jacob's Well near Wimberley, Texas. Artesian spring in karst geology of Texas hill country; cave is 40 m deep. Flow was once so strong it pushed 2m into air & never went dry. Due to regional water extraction, flow much diminished & has gone dry 5 times since 2000.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 147

7 Wonders of the Water World: #3 Amazon River basin

Freshwater systems are massive! Tiny boat on a tiny tributary in the massive Amazon basin. Much of my Water Year has
focused on raising kids; but this is from time long before. Research trip to the Amazon in 1995, which eventually led to a paper 27 years later (see Twitter thread). The Amazon is by far the largest river in world by volume: 20% of all river water discharged to oceans is from Amazon; same volume as next 7 primary rivers!

© Jeff Opperman

Day 146

7 Wonders of the Water World: #2 Iguazú Falls

Rivers are awe-inspiring! Rivers provide water, but they can also take your breath away. Between Argentina (Cataratas del Iguazú) and Brazil (Cataratas do Iguaçu), this is the largest waterfall system in the world. The name Iguazú comes from the Guarani or Tupi words "y", meaning "water", and "ûasú "[waˈsu], meaning "big".

© Jeff Opperman

Day 145

7 Wonders of the Water World - #1 Mekong River

Rivers are organic machines for food production. The Mekong hosts the most productive freshwater fishery in the world (over 2 million tons - approx. 20% global freshwater harvest - valued at $10+ billion annually) & its delta produces more than 1/2 of Vietnam's staple crops and 90% of its rice for export.

Connectivity is the key to productivity as it enables natural flow of water, sediments and nutrients. Mekong connectivity is threatened by hydropower dams. But there are solutions - which are highlighted in our fabulous microsite - Rivers of Food.


© Jeff Opperman

Day 144

Anthony Hurford proposed a "7 Wonders of the Water World" series. I'll try with hese caveats:

1. rules of Water year +
has to be my photo, so wonders limited to where I've been
2. just my brainstorm = not definitive; offer your list!

Starting tomorrow on Day 145


© Jeff Opperman

Day 143

Today is World Day of Social Justice. Decisions about water infrastructure, particularly dams, have long struggled to fully consider social justice.

This photo is from a 2010 rally: a song from activists & children of Temacapaulin, a Mexican town that could disappear beneath a reservoir. The dam was delayed for years but now appears to be moving forward.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 142

Don't call it debris, ChatGPT! I asked ChatGPT about trees & stream habitat.

GPT: Trees provide large woody debris etc
Me: Isn't 'debris' a pejorative term?
GPT: You are correct, how about large woody material?

Photo of wood & complex habitat, Chagrin River, Ohio, USA

© Jeff Opperman

Day 141

I missed that yesterday was Random Acts of Kindness Day! Here's a cute little random act of kindness between Luca and Wren from the summer or 2009 in a waterfall on the Chagrin River. It also is the setup to one of my favorite pictures - which I have used as the cover photo for this Water Year.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 140

Tourists at the confluence where two rivers form the Irrawaddy in Myanmar, just above canceled Myitsone hydropower dam.

IRENA report just called for doubling global hydropower, which would have devastating impacts around the globe - and is unnecessary. See what a doubling of hydropower would mean, including damming the Irrawaddy, in my Twitter thread

© Jeff Opperman

Day 139

"What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness" - John Steinbeck.

And sometimes the warmth of summer makes a cameo - balmy yet weirdly disorienting - in the middle of winter.

Birch by Chagrin River on the warmest Feb 15 recorded in NE Ohio

© Jeff Opperman

Day 138

It’s World Hippos Day! Hippos in Zambezi River, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia, 2009.

My first time seeing hippos in wild - or any of the big wildlife of Africa; just incredible to see.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 137

Freshwater's contribution to Valentine's Day.

Locks signifying lovers' commitments on the Mesarski Most, a footbridge crossing the river Ljubljanica in Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia; from 2011.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 136

A green heron in the mangrove forest of Sian Kaʼan Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Photo taken in 2010 on a trip w/ my sister and her family; my kids & their cousins found jaguar tracks in forest near our little cabins.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 135

It's Superbowl Sunday, so here's a freshwater football photo: my Dad and Luca playing football in Lake Erie in 2010. And what did we see that day? A Bald Eagle. So my freshwater-influenced pick for the game is the Eagles!

© Jeff Opperman

Day 134

Wren studying benthic ecology, Chagrin River 2013 Today is International Day of Women & Girls in Science! Check out this inspiring video from WWF Science: interviews with WWF's Women in Science sharing why they love being a scientist.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 133

On thin ice...an ephemeral pool on the floodplain of the Chagrin River (NE Ohio) that froze last weekend & now melting under record-breaking warmth. 68F (20C) in Cleveland yesterday - warmest early February day ever recorded (typical high is 37F, 3C). Past 7 years had 7 days in the 60s in early February in Cleveland; in previous 43 years only 2 such days! It is certainly nice to walk around on a balmy Feb day, but its warmth is actually chilling for what it portends for global shifts in storms, fires, & food production

© Jeff Opperman

Day 132

Five years ago, Luca on a boat leaving Shwe Myitzu Pagoda, the "floating pagoda" of Indawgyi Lake in Myanmar, one of the largest lakes in Southeast Asia. My blog post in Forbes about Indawgyi Lake, fisheries and hydropower in Myanmar.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 131

Barton Springs Pool, created within Barton Creek in Austin Texas, is fed by four springs fed by water from Edwards Aquifer. Water temp is near 70F (21C) all year & this freshwater feature is "heart and soul" of Austin. Also home for Barton Springs Salamander. The Pool is popular year-round but is particularly beloved during Austin's hot summers. Huge crowds gather to swim in the cool, refreshing water welling up from underground. Barton Springs Salamander is lungless & on endangered species list. Once thought to be restricted to Barton Springs, but has been found a few other places nearby. Likes clear water at opening of springs but can also go subterranean

© Jeff Opperman

Day 130

Jacob's Well near Wimberley, TX. Artesian spring in karst geology of Texas hill country; cave is 40 m deep. Flow was once so strong it pushed 2m into air & never went dry. Due to regional water extraction, flow much diminished & has gone dry 5 times since 2000. Efforts are underway to protect recharge zones and manage water, but the surrounding region is undergoing dramatic growth. Fish swimming near surface are mostly sunfish, but deep in the cave are cave-adapted crustaceans and the Fern Bank salamander (Eurycea pterophilia) This report prepared for@txst has great info and photos.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 129

A huge cypress along Cypress Creek in Wimberley, Texas in the Hill Country near Austin.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 128

Fly on, little wing.
Jimi, Stevie

Stevie Ray Vaughan statue along Lady Bird Lake (the Colorado River of Texas) in Austin.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 127

Sunset on Chao Praya, Bangkok, January 2016

© Jeff Opperman

Day 126

Birch crossing Wiley Creek in a blizzard. She turns 12 this month, still tough as nails.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 125

Happy World Wetlands Day to those who celebrate! And really, most people of the world should celebrate due to wetlands' diverse benefits.

Photo of Paola, Wren & Nonno paddling in a floodplain wetland of Roanoke River, an area protected by The Nature Conservancy

© Jeff Opperman

Day 124

Today is birthday of 2 great writers of powerful reflections on rivers: Langston Hughes (1901 -1967) and Jason Isbell (b. 1979).

Hughes wrote "A Negro Speaks of Rivers" when he was 17 after he crossed the Mississippi while traveling from his home in Cleveland Ohio to visit his father who was living in Mexico. Published in 1921 in The Crisis, it marks start of his literary career. 99 years later Jason Isbell  wrote "Rivers," a beautiful merging of various strands of American river songs, a confluence of the tributary of somber songs, rivers as crime scenes & disasters, with a tributary of celebration, of rivers of healing & solace.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 123

Rafts, rainbow, & dark clouds looming, Colorado River, 2009.

Due to decades of historic drought, Lakes Mead & Powell - the 2 largest reservoirs in US - are approximately 3/4 empty. Fed government gave a deadline of today for 7 states that depend on the Colorado river to reach consensus on substantial cuts to their water use. "Federal officials in June called for the seven states to come up with plans to drastically reduce water diversions by roughly 15% to 25%." Today, they missed the deadline.


© Jeff Opperman

Day 122

Luca @ an ice wall near Chagrin River in 2008. Just rocks today at the end of January, 2023. Other worrying signs, including snowfall in Ohio is near record lows; only 9 inches so far for Cleveland compared to an average of 28 inches that normally falls by late January. And Great Lakes ice cover is also near historic lows. Ice covers only 0.06% of Lake Erie, typically it's 50% covered this time of year. New York City just broke record for latest measurable snowfall (previous record was January 29, 1973) and will soon break record for longest stretch without snow (332 days, set in Dec. 2020) - and no snow in 10-day forecast...

"Enjoy the weather but worry for the climate" - Jesse Jenkins.


© Jeff Opperman

Day 121

A boat on its way to Mexcaltitán in Nayarit, Mexico, a small town in a beautiful setting in the estuary of Rio San Pedro, the last free-flowing river in the western Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico. The Rio San Pedro will remain free flowing because under Mexican law, an Environmental Water Reserve was established for the San Pedro, protecting it from being dammed, allowing it to continue to deliver water, sediment and nutrients to the highly productive Marismas Nacionales (National Wetlands, Biosphere Reserve and Ramsar site), home to a large (200,000 hectare) mangrove forest.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 120

A saddle-billed stork flies low over the Zambezi River in Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia (taken in 2009). A huge wading bird: can reach height of nearly 5 feet (150 cm) & feeds on aquatic prey such as fish, mollusks, frogs, and crustaceans.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 119

It's hard to believe it's been 10 yrs since we wrapped up our trip down the Mekong river. Over holidays we played ultimate frisbee & I collided with that little guy, who is now 6'2". I bounced off him & he kept running while I lay on ground with a throbbing shoulder...

© Jeff Opperman

Day 118

Last night was Burns night, so a toast to Robert Burns (b. 1759) - the national poet of Scotland and called by some "nature's bard" for his frequent use of nature imagery

Among the heathy hills & ragged woods
The roaring Fyers pours his mossy floods;
Till full he dashes on the rocky mounds,
Where, thro' a shapeless breach, his stream resounds.

Full poem, "Lines On The Fall Of Fyers Near Loch-Ness," at this link

The image of whisky bottles was from Singleton Whisky
from Glen Ord distillery in Muir of Ord, Scotland.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 117

Hazel M. Johnson-the "mother of environmental justice"-was born on this day in 1935. She was a tireless and effective advocate for clean air & water for neighborhoods in Chicago. See her bio in this link.

AlexRenew, which manages wastewater for Alexandria VA, named a tunnel boring machine "Hazel" in honor of Hazel Johnson. The tunnels will help reduce discharge of untreated sewage into the Potomac River during storm events.

Chicago River at sunset.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 116

𝗧𝗼𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗶𝘀 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗗𝗮𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗘𝗱𝘂𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻! Some of the best education kids can get is time in nature; streams & rivers are some of the most effective classrooms. Luca nets a crayfish while Wren observes those they already caught. Photos are from 2009; a decade later, they both worked stories of time spent in rivers into their college application essays. Note...no crayfish were harmed during the 'lesson'.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 115

Snowstorm with wet, clingy snow transforms the Chagrin River into a winter wonderland.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 114

Snowy Sunday along the Chagrin River.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 113

Southern carmine bee eaters fly near their nest holes in a bank of Zambezi River in Zambia. River migration creates the steep cut banks they use for protected nests.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 112

Wooden ships on the water, very free and easy
Easy, you know the way it's supposed to be
And it's a fair wind
Blowin' warm out of the south over my shoulder
Guess I'll set a course and go
Wooden Ships, David Crosby (1941-2023)

Ship crossing Lake Geneva @ Montreux

© Jeff Opperman

Day 111

A boat at sunset in the Si Phan Don, or “Four Thousand Islands,” stretch of the Mekong in Laos. Ten years ago, I wrote about our trip down Mekong & the declining fish catch in this region & elsewhere along the river in a blog for the New York Times


© Jeff Opperman

Day 110

55 years ago, Ohio became perhaps the world’s first government to legislate a system of protected rivers: Ohio Wild and Scenic Rivers preceded Federal Wild & Scenic legislation by 10 months. Grand River was the second protected river, 49 years ago this week.

This is Luca kayaking on the Grand last summer.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 109

Looking for trolls..at Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Tomorrow at 9 am i'll be on WKSU Sound of Idea
s talking about Great Lakes & water issues, including how 'natural infrastructure' such as forested wetlands can protect water quality

© Jeff Opperman

Day 108

Happy 19th birthday Wren!

Dropped her off at airport this morning as she heads back to school & the nest - after a month bursting at the seams - is empty once again. Photo is Wren 10.5 years ago in the Chagrin River

© Jeff Opperman

Day 107

From a hike yesterday in Whitesburg Preserve in Chagrin Falls.

A small channel winds across the floodplain of the Chagrin River. After a few gray weeks, the sun made a welcome return yesterday and today.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 106

With heavy rain, its bank do fill,
As the river churns and flows.
When it snows it’s prettier still,
Yet the channel is locked and froze.
But hard rain overtaken by winter chill,
Then you can see both flows and fresh snow.

Chagrin River in Chagrin Falls OH

© Jeff Opperman

Day 105

Couldn't think of what to post today so just grabbed this of Sulphur Springs during a small flood (Feb 08). This is the same creek that was behind the house where I grew up in the 1970s & 80s (a bit upstream from here).

Randomly selected for Water Year day 105? Not at all...105 is address of that house!

© Jeff Opperman

Day 104

Flooded Yolo Bypass (2004). Bypass is 60,00 acres of floodplain connected to the Sacramento River, which conveys floodwaters during biggest events, such as what is hitting California now. "Extreme events" are #2 on World Economic Forum's list of biggest global risks. Floodplains can help!

Bypass also provides productive habitat for native fish & birds. Juvenile salmon grow faster on the bypass than in the river. But wait, there's even more... The Bypass also provides groundwater recharge, "capturing" some of the floodwater flowing towards he sea & storing it for later use. Also provides wildlife habitat (including the largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in California), hunting and recreation, and open space in rapidly urbanizing area.


© Jeff Opperman

Day 103

Irrawaddy River at Myitkyina, Myanmar in 2018.

Many colleagues and I just released a paper demonstrating how the renewable revolution can allow countries to build low-carbon grids while keeping rivers like Irrawaddy free flowing.


© Jeff Opperman

Day 102

My Dad turns 80 today! And my daughter turns 19 in a few days.

Here they are approximately 19 years ago in the beautiful canyon of the South Yuba River.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 101

An American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) in Everglades National Park, from 2008, taken from a canoe with my kids sitting silently next to me. Pretty good example of "lower teeth visible" characteristic to distinguish crocs from gators whose "lower teeth are hidden".

© Jeff Opperman

Day 100

Kids playing in the Mekong River in a village in Laos upstream of Luang Prabang (2012). The Mekong Monitor recently tweeted images showing construction underway on the Luang Prabang dam, which would turn this stretch of river into a long reservoir - and have major impacts downstream on people and nature.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 99

Can you help me to find Nevada, California? (Jayhawks)

Deer Creek in the snow, Nevada County, California.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 98

Today is National Bean Day! And while I think they probably mean the legume, I'll take this chance to showcase my little dog, Bean, in some big water. Here he is riding a raft on Lake Erie.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 97

In 2012, we explored a wild stretch of the Mekong in Cambodia south of the Laos border. It was a magical place of river dolphins, labyrinthine channels through islands & trees growing bent over from past floods. Now proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here's a blog in the New York Times about travelling through this riverscape.

Kids playing hide & seek on an island


© Jeff Opperman

Day 96

5 yrs ago we took a trip down the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar and got to see cooperative fishing between river dolphins & fishermen (& women). Read by blog in Forbes on the river dolphins & how the renewable revolution can reduce hydropower risk to the Irrawaddy - and its most iconic species.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 95

Last week was 50 years since the full ban on DDT in the US went into effect (12/31/1972). Before the ban, there were only 417 eagle nests in the entire lower 48 states. Now, the population is estimated at 317,000 eagles.

Bald Eagle, The Nature Conservancy,
Emiquon Preserve (IL)

© Jeff Opperman

Day 94

152 years ago this week, floodwaters were still receding in Rome from the "Great Flood" of December 29, 1870. Luca standing below the line marking the flood height on wall of Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, which also shows other historic floods.

All across Rome, plaques and lines marking the height of historic floods can be seen...


© Jeff Opperman

Day 93

Happy New Year!

Day 1 of Calendar Year 2023 is day 93 of Water Year 2023. Read my blog about why I'm doing this.

New Year snowball fight by semi-frozen Chagrin River. Luca's snowball about to land on his young cousin hiding behind an ineffective shelter.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 92

Let's raise a glass to rivers in 2023!

Happy New Year!

© Jeff Opperman

Day 91

Winter Moon by Charles N. Holmes

Brightly the moon like a jewel is beaming,
White in the east, o'er a lone landscape gleaming.
Over the meadows and over the snow,
Glimmering, shimmering, silvery glow.
Cold is her gleam upon river and rill.


© Jeff Opperman

Day 90

Ten years ago today, first swim in the Mekong. Read my blog post in the New York Times on the beginning of that trip.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 89

Happy 49th birthday, Endangered Species Act! The ESA went into effect this day in 1973. Alligators were in danger of extinction due to hunting & were one of 1st species listed under the ESA. They are now considered fully recovered and off the list.

This is a photo of mine of an alligator in Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia, USA

© Jeff Opperman

Day 88

10 years ago, on our family trip down Mekong, Wren and I saw the sad sight of an Irrawaddy dolphin that drowned when tangled in fishing lines (I wrote an NY Times blog about this). Recent deaths of 3 more of these critically endangered river dolphins in Cambodia highlight need for urgent action on freshwater ecosystems and species. There were only 89 river dolphins in 2020 so immediate action is needed to halt “recent increase in illegal fishing activities in dolphin conservation areas”. Here's another NY Times blog of mine on WWF-Cambodia's effortst to protect and restore river doplhins.


© Jeff Opperman

Day 87

Ten years ago, my kids woke up for 2012 Christmas morning on banks of the Mekong river (here on a bridge to small island). Now on Xmas 2022 they are home from college, standing above frozen Sulphur Springs.

Here's my New York Times blog post of that Mekong Xmas -

© Jeff Opperman

Day 86

Merry Christmas! First photo was before the big storm and cold temperatures hit the US. Here’s one afterwards - from yesterday. Both photos are of the Chagrin River in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 85

Twas the night before Christmas,
The outside wind it was surgin'.
But inside none felt the cold,
Not even the sturgeon.

Stay warm, and Merry Christmas!

© Jeff Opperman

Day 84

On the first day of rivers, My true love gave to me... A kingfisher in a thorn tree.
Two river dolphins. Three crocodiles. Four baby gators...
Five waterfalls. Six salmon spawning. Seven Ibis feeding...
Eight water striders. Nine storks a flying. Ten hippos wading..
Eleven bee eaters flapping. And twelve ducks a rising!


© Jeff Opperman

Day 83

This week, in 546, Rome fell to Totila, the Ostrogoth king. It was the final "fall of Rome".

Water infrastructure was the foundation of ancient Rome but also a vulnerability. Several sieges, including that of the Ostrogoths, blocked aqueducts to help bring the city to its knees.

My daughter, Wren fills
abottle at the Fontana di Ponte Sisto.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 82

Happy Winter Solstice for the northern hemisphere as the sun sets into the longest night of the year - but each day will be longer starting tomorrow. Frozen falls of a tiny tributary of the Chagrin River (NE Ohio)

© Jeff Opperman

Day 81

A Winter Sunset, by Lord Alfred Douglas

The frosty sky,
like a furnace burning.
The keen air, crisp and cold,
And a sunset that splashes the clouds with gold
But my heart to summer turning.

(photo is a pond in Chagrin Falls, Ohio)

© Jeff Opperman

Day 80

Victoria Falls, Zambia. Massive floodplains & wetlands upstream of the Falls act like a sponge, slowing wet season flows and ensuring dry season flows for downstream hydropower. My new series on Nature-based Solutions for water & climate challenges in Africa starts today.

Read it here in Forbes -

© Jeff Opperman

Day 79

Happy Hanukkah on the first day of the festival of lights.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 78

111 years ago this week, the National Association for Preventing the Pollution of Rivers & Waterways called for cities to treat sewage before dumping it in rivers. My daughter, Wren paddles on the Potomac; before cleanup it was called "too thick to drink but too thin to plow...”

Modern wastewater treatment for the DC region began in the 1950s and since then the Potomac has become a recreational and aesthetic resource. Although, like many older cities, combined sewers still lead to sewage flowing directly into rivers during heavy rainstorms. Investments and projects still underway to deal with that remaining challenge.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 77

Congratulations to France for making the World Cup final. Boats in the harbor of Le Conquet in Brittany - the westernmost town in all of France. Several streams converge in an estuary that runs through the town.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 76

Congratulations to Argentina for making the World Cup final. Aquí están las Cataratas del Iguazú - Iguazu Falls on the Argentine side, part of the largest waterfall system in the world.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 75

Update the CBD
Something's missing from 'land & seas'
Time to make the framework whole
Add freshwater to the goals

Our song calling for an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework at COP15 in Montreal - one that must include targets for inland water ecosystems. Watch our song here: youtu.be/mXzvZhzJ-sQ

© Jeff Opperman

Day 74

Please picture me
In the trees
I hit my peak at seven feet
In the swing..
But I, I was high in the sky..
Are there still beautiful things?

Lyrics by Taylor Swift, whose birthday it is today. And the photo is a 7-year-old Wren swinging over Lake Erie. Read my essay in New York Times on Taylor Swift and nature


© Jeff Opperman

Day 73

The new globa framework for nature must elevate INLAND WATERS to same level as "land & sea." Right now inland waters is tenuously in brackets. Time to make a racket to drop those [brackets]. Read my blog post & listen to the playlist to rock for the rivers:


© Jeff Opperman

Day 72

Today is International Mountain Day. Mountains matter for many reasons, including they are often the birthplace of rivers. Here a stream begins its journey by flowing out of a lake high in Rocky Mountains, Colorado

© Jeff Opperman

Day 71

𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘥𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘏𝘶𝘤𝘬𝘭𝘦𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘺 𝘍𝘪𝘯𝘯 was published this day in 1884. As for my family, 10 years ago, my wife, kids and I took a trip down the Mekong River & read 𝘏𝘶𝘤𝘬 𝘍𝘪𝘯𝘯 as we went. So many parts of the story about travelling along the Mississippi reminded us of what we were seeing on the Mekong - from the fish markets to the wooden houses on stilts above the water.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 70

The Great Lakes Compact went into effect on this day in 2008. Here's Luca & a buddy boogie boarding on Lake Erie eight months later. The Great Lakes hold 6 quadrillion gallons - about 20% of all the freshwater in the world. The Compact is between 8 states that border the lakes.

The compact is the means by which the states implement their commitments under the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement, which also includes Ontario & Quebec.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 69

December 8th is 𝗕𝗼𝗱𝗵𝗶 𝗗𝗮𝘆 as Buddhists celebrate when Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) attained enlightenment while sitting under the Bodhi tree (596 BC.) This photo is from a temple in Vientiane, Laos with the Mekong River behind Buddha.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 68

121 years ago this week, in his first address to Congress, President Teddy Roosevelt stressed the crucial value of water & forests, adding: "The water supply itself depends upon the forest."

Luca & Wren in Austin Creek, California - just two tiny kids on a huge forest log above a river

© Jeff Opperman

Day 67

Happy 75th Birthday Everglades National Park! President Truman at the Park's dedication: "...tranquil in its quiet beauty...To its natural abundance we owe the spectacular plant & animal life that distinguishes this place from all others in our country."

© Jeff Opperman

Day 66

O Jogo Bonito. For The Beautiful Game here's a photo of 3 beautiful things, which evoke today's game at the World Cup between Brazil & South Korea - Iguassu Falls, Brazil with an "88" butterfly with colors of the Korean flag: black, red, blue & (sorta) white.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 65

Today is 𝗪𝗶𝗹𝗱𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗗𝗮𝘆. Most people will think of land animals (e.g., lions) but remember that rivers also full of wildlife (like the Irrawaddy dolphin in the photo on the let) & they provide key habitats and water for countless land animals, e.g. elephants use rivers as migratory corridors.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 64

With the US men's football team playing the Netherlands today in the 2022 World Cup, here’s a canal in the Dutch city of Utrecht in February 2020. Utrecht is the closest city to the WWF-Netherlands office.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 63

Ile St. Louis in the River Seine in Paris, July 2022. Georges Seurat (who developed pointillism), was born in Paris on this day in 1859. His most famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, shows people enjoying a park by the Seine.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 62

A Carolina wren, a songbird commonly found along streams.
"To you, I'll give the world
To you, I'll never be cold
'Cause I feel that when I'm with you
It's alright, I know it's right
And the songbirds are singing"
By Christine McVie


© Jeff Opperman

Day 61

Ruth Patrick, botanist & limnologist, was born 115 yrs ago this week. She was a pioneer in the use of biodiversity to assess the health of freshwater systems. A diatom specialist, she invented a diatometer to sample them. This photo is of Luca sampling something (probably not diatoms) in 2007.


© Jeff Opperman

Day 60

The 2022 World Cup is in a very dry place so here is a 2018 photo of the WWF Freshwater Practice gathering together for our global meeting....in a very dry place: Wadi Wurayah, one of only places with flowing water in the United Arab Emirates.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 59

While most people will first see the (blurry) rainbow trout, the focus of photo is on the wood: a critically important - but often overlooked - component of habitat in streams & rivers. And a somewhat odd thing to tell people you studied for your PhD. Streamwood!!

© Jeff Opperman

Day 58

Ohio and Michigan share the greatest rivalry in US college (American) football. They also share Lake Erie. Michigan might have beaten Ohio yesterday on the field but the Lake Erie shoreline score is: Ohio: 500 km, Michigan 52 km.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 57

A ribbon of a stream near Spider Rock within the Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Navajo Nation. One of North America's longest contiguously inhabited landscapes, with crops still planted on floodplains as they were 1000s of years ago.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 56

US plays England today in the World Cup! Reminded me of my trips to London. So here's a photo of the River Thames on an unseasonably warm February day in 2019 (another "enjoy the weather, fear for the climate" kind of day). Go USMNT!!

© Jeff Opperman

Day 55

Giving thanks for reconnecting with family and friends. And rivers that are still connected. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Day 54

Luca & his little helper after a big day walleye fishing in Quebec, 2015. Three reasons for the photo: 1. Luca is home for Thanksgiving 2. The First Thanksgiving relied on an abundance of food from lakes and rivers 3. Canada is in soccer World Cup for 1st time in 46 years!

© Jeff Opperman

Day 53

Cast net fishing on the Mekong river in Laos, 2013. Ahead of Thanksgiving, it's important to remember that the first thanksgiving meal in 1621 featured river foods, including ducks, geese, swans, oysters and eels. But that has long been overlooked. Like the fact that rivers support 1/3 of global food production. My blog in Forbes looks more closely at both these forgotten river/food connections - with river recipes inspired by 1621!

© Jeff Opperman

Day 52

On World Fisheries Day remember that freshwater fisheries provide food for 200 million & livelihoods for 60 million people. Luca with novice monks at a fishing camp at Khone Falls on the Mekong river near the Laos-Cambodia border.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 51

Inspired by the kick off of the soccer World Cup, here's a 2018 photo of kayak soccer (football) in Zurich's Schanzengraben Canal, which connects Lake Zurich with Limmat River. OK, it's "Kanu Polo," but that's close - see the keeper about to block a shot.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 50

Today is World Toilet Day. This is a riverside latrine in a rural village in western Sichuan, China back in 2005. China has made dramatic progress in providing access to improved sanitation. But the world is still way off track and major progress is still needed in much of world: globally, 3.6 billion still lack access to safely managed sanitation.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 49

Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills of Ohio, during spring break 2012. Hocking Hills State Park is the most popular state park in Ohio with 4 million annual visits. Primarily notable for how water has carved fabulous ravines, caves, and falls.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 48

Nature-based Solutions featured for climate adaptation at COP27. Floodplains are NBS with multiple benefits: flood-risk reduction, habitat (e.g., for Sandhill cranes), ecotourism (to see Sandhill cranes, below). Wren shows not everyone loves multi-benefit floodplains!

© Jeff Opperman

Day 47

Launching today at COP27, a report that I authored, Waterways to Resilience, on Nature-based Solutions in Africa, from WWF, AB InBev and African Development Bank. NBS (including mangroves shown here in the Tana River delta in Kenya) protect people & promote nature, e.g., fisheries

© Jeff Opperman

Day 46

It's Nature-based Solutions (NbS) Day at the Water4Climate pavilion at COP27. 11 years ago, Luca & I recorded a video for The Nature Conservancy on  on how forest soils absorb water to reduce floods & increase water quality (next tweet). Has been seen 13,000 times, including by his 9th grade class, much to his Chagrin!

© Jeff Opperman

Day 45

Market at high tide in the Mekong river delta with everything elevated above water. Today is the 1st ever Water Day at Climate COP27. Water & climate is not just ensuring enough to drink & irrigate. Water flow in rivers is also critical to deliver sufficient sediment to deltas. Without that, deltas are sinking & shrinking.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 44

Yesterday was Neil Young's 77th bday, one of best singers at integrating nature in lyrics:
Blue, blue windows behind the stars
Yellow moon on the rise
Big birds flying across the sky
Throwing shadows on our eyes
Leave us
Helpless, helpless, helpless

Photo of my kids in North Ontario 2009


© Jeff Opperman

Day 43

Freshwater species populations have declined by 83% on average since 1970 - the largest fall of any species group. On Living on Earth, I talk about that trend & what we can do about it & WWF's Living Planet Report. (And the bird is a Little Blue Heron in Florida, by the way).

Watch it here:

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Day 42

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. (the leaves are gone)

© Jeff Opperman

Day 41

On this day in 1975 the Great Lakes freighter Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on way to steel mill at the inflow to Lake Erie. It was the largest ship to sink in the Great Lakes & inspired a song by Gordon Lightfoot.

See a similar freighter at left of my kids playing on a Lake Erie beach.

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Day 40

Holding a juvenile chinook salmon reared in an enclosure on floodplain of Cosumnes (CA). Not quite Zeb Hogan with a Mekong giant catfish. But shows how reconnecting floodplains = bigger and more fish (helping to reverse nature loss and bend the biodiversity curve upwards), healthier wetlands & less risk for people. And that's how the photo at the top right links to three global conferences (see Day 39).

© Jeff Opperman

Day 39

I took this photo during my post-docat University of California, Davis. The photo links objectives of 3 COPs happening this fall: climate adaptation under COP27 + wetlands under Ramsar Convention COP14 + nature under Convention on Biological Diversity COP15. Wondering how? Answer tomorrow (above)

© Jeff Opperman

Day 38

75 years ago this week, Marjory Stoneman Douglas published "The Everglades: River of Grass." That same year the Everglades National Park was established. This is a scan of a 1998 photo that I took while slowly paddling away from huge gator encountered in a mangrove tunnel.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 37

Wrapping up parents weekend with Wren with a walk along the Charles. 75 deg F in Boston on November 6 as COP27 opens in Egypt. As I read somewhere on Twitter today - enjoy the weather, but worry for the climate.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 36

Critical Ramsar Convention on Wetlands COP14 is underway. Over last 20 years, WWF has helped countries protect wetlands totaling an area roughly twice the size of Spain! Here’s a Marsh Wren in a wetland along Roanoke River.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 35

Tana River Delta, Kenya, January 2011. Fishermen in dhows and thousands of egrets and ibis, all setting off at dawn. I got up at 5 am to watch the sunrise.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 34

More on Tonle Sap - a huge lake in Cambodia that fills each year from the Mekong river. This looks like a sunset photo of wetland vegetation? Well it is sort of..those are tree tops! Each wet season, the area of the lake increases by 3-5 times while is depth rises by between 2-8 m. I took this photo from a floating research station where I spent the night in 2013.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 33

Floating village on Tonle Sap Lake, connected to the Mekong River in Cambodia, featuring floating markets, floating temples, floating clinics, floating schools, and floating cell phone stores (in background)

© Jeff Opperman

Day 32

Fall at the Falls. Chagrin Falls on the Chagrin River (northeast Ohio). The town of Chagrin Falls was built based on water power, with 11 dams & multiple factories along the river (including my backyard). Now only 2 remain.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 31

Today is World Cities Day under the theme of "Better City, Better Life." I'll add this: Better River, Better City, Better Life.

The Cuyahoga River got cleaned up, making life in Cleveland much better. Here's Austin Walkin' Cane at the
Burning River Fest

© Jeff Opperman

Day 30

Happy Halloween! A mayfly emerges from the Chagrin River. Here Wren clearly had been rummaging through the costume bin as she decided that ruby slippers and fairy wings were the right combo for a hike.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 29

African fish eagle. Globally, populations of freshwater wildlife have fallen by 83% on average since 1970. Reversing that will require transforming food & energy systems - but these transformation are necessary anyhow & will have great benefits for people. Read my blog on Forbes on this:


© Jeff Opperman

Day 28

Double-Decker Falls of the Chagrin River in the South Chagrin Reservation, near sunset. I've been visiting this spot since I was a little kid. Have a relaxing weekend.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 27

People told me it wouldn't be easy to post a water-themed photo with some relevant story, everyday. Wise people, it turns out. But it has been an absolutely beautiful fall, so here's a photo of a pond in Russel Uplands Preserve.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 26

Luca & I near Horseshoe Bend of Colorado River back in 2009. More than 300 river miles downstream is Hoover Dam. On this day in 1936, its hydropower turbines first generated electricity. At 2 GW, it was the biggest hydropower dam in world until 1948. Now its power generation is dropping due to drought.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 25

They grow up so fast. Seems like yesterday I found Wren floating on a raft. Today she called from college asking what I knew about the role of political parties as gatekeepers to extremist candidates.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 24

Happy World River Dolphin Day 2022! I took these photos of Irrawaddy Dolphins in the Mekong in 2013 on a trip down the river with my family. See my article in the New York Times about these extraordinary dolphins and that remarkable trip.


© Jeff Opperman

Day 23

Beer is 95% water. So clean water is crucial for beer - but also for breweries who came back to rivers once they were cleaned up, like Collision Brewery on the Cuyahoga. All this and more in my oped on the intertwined history of Cleveland & water, told through beer labels


© Jeff Opperman

Day 22

Today is 71st birthday of The Nature Conservancy, where I got my start in freshwater conservation. Here are my 2015 TNC Freshwater team colleagues in Utah above the Colorado River at sunset.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 21

English "Writer-gardener" John Evelyn was born this day in 1661. To fight pollution he encouraged tree planting & large city parks. Today we call those Nature-based Solutions and they are key to flood risk & access to nature. Such as providing my son, Luca, with the chance to fish in this riverside park.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 20

Today is a rainy, chilly fall day and the Chagrin River is running high.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 19

My son Luca fishing in the Chagrin River (NE Ohio) when he was ten. He taught himself to fish bluegills at about five with a stick and a string and I've been playing catch-up ever since.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 18

50 years ago, the US Congress passed the historic Clean Water Act.

The Cuyahoga River helped inspire the Act thanks to the infamous time it caught fire - and has benefited from it enormously over the subsequent decades. In the photo, my daughter, Wren, kayaks on the Cuyahoga downstream of 1969 fire spot.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 17

A temple and bridge over the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 16

On World Food Day, let's remember that nearly 1/3 of all food in world comes from rivers: their water, nutrients, sediment or habitat. See WWF's fascinating microsite Rivers of Food.

The photo is one I took of boats
full of produce in a floating village on Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 15

WWF's Living Planet Report 2022 shows greatest decline in species populations is among those that depend on freshwater habitats, incl. fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Overall, there has been an 83% fall in freshwater species populations since 1970 - basically over my lifetime. You can download the report at: livingplanet.panda.org/en-US/

The photos is one I snapped of a Juvenile white ibisin Corkscrew swamp in Florida.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 14

Ribbon waterfall at Ash Cave in Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio. Wren is the tiny figure at lower right of pool at base.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 13

BREAKING: Living Planet Report shows vertebrate population's have declined by 69% on average since 1970. Monitored freshwater populations have dropped by an average of 83%, largest decline of any species group. Here's a photo of mine of a Gharial in Nepal

© Jeff Opperman

Day 12

Freshwater ecosystems support an impressive proportion of all species on earth.

Did you know rivers, lakes and freshwater wetlands have MORE fish species than oceans? And oceans have 10,000x more
water!. Here, my son, Luca looks at some of them.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 11

In a waterfall in the Chagrin River (northeast Ohio). My son, Luca, is now two inches taller than I am.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 10

Today is World Mental Healhty Day.

esearch supports that time in nature improves mental health; "blue spaces" such as rivers & lakes are particularly effective. More parks in cities is key for equitable access.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 9

Sunset on the Siphandone or Four Thousand Islands region of the Mekong River, a 50 km stretch where the river branches into hundreds of channels, a magical place of islands and waterfalls.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 8

It's World Migratory Bird Day (October 8). Rivers, floodplains and wetlands are the crucial stopovers for migrating birds. Here's a photo I took of a Chinese pond heron along the Mekong River in Cambodia.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 7

Luca is back home from college for the weekend. The leaves are turning. I'm reminded of this photo from 15 years ago. Luca and Wren along the Chagrin River, October, 2007.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 6

Getting unstuck and underway. Men pushing a passenger boat off the bank of the Mekong River downstream of Huay Xai, Laos, December 2012.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 5

Elephants along the Zambezi River in Zambia. Wildlife needs water but also rivers. Rivers are essential migratory corridors for elephants in Africa's Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area (aka KAZA), which is the world's largest transfrontier conservation area and home to half of the continent's remaining elephants.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 4

This project was prompted by my wife and I becoming empty nesters this year after our youngest child headed off to university. But on #WorldAnimalDay I'm reminded that we've still got canine kids at home. Here's Birch in the Chagrin River, making the point that animals love water!

© Jeff Opperman

Day 3

Today is #WorldHabitatDay. Rivers greatly enhance life for people in cities, offering recreation & connection with nature even in crowded urban areas. Over the past 50 years, for example, the French city of Lyon has revitalized its riverfront - demonstrating the value of (re)connecting people with their rivers.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 2

The Water Year's timing might appear idiosyncratic, but it actually makes total sense. Here in the western US, it starts when the rain starts to fall in Fall (or autumn for those of you reading this outside of North America), flows into winter when the snows come, runs off in spring and is used in summer - helping to plan how best to manage this essential but scarce resource.

But this diary project also celebrates another scarce resource: time with kids. Like fishing with my
son in Dinkey Creek, California.

© Jeff Opperman

Day 1

Today is the start of my Water Year diary. I'll be posting photos and thoughts here (and on social media, including Twitter) every day for the next 12 months. These will dive into different themes and topics but all of them will hopefully help to inspire people to care that the future includes both abundant water supplies and healthy freshwater ecosystems.

Find out more about why I'm doing this in this short essay on our WWF Freshwater Medium channel.