Brian Richter

By Brian Richter, Chief Scientist, Water, The Nature Conservancy Australia is one of the driest inhabited places on Earth. Yet nearly two-thirds of the country’s land area is devoted to agriculture, generating 93 percent of the domestic food supply. The country is only able to sustain this level of food production through irrigation and an...

 Conservation interests and agencies gathered along the Murray River in Australia earlier this month to witness the return of water to a wetland system that now rarely receives floodwater from the river, due to construction of large water-storage reservoirs built upstream that capture the river’s flow and sends it to irrigated farms.   With the twist...

 I was looking at a river bed And the story it told of a river that flowed Made me sad to think it was dead (From the song “A Horse with No Name” by America) Some of my favorite photographic images are those of the Earth filmed from satellites in space. In those breathtakingly beautiful...

Grand Canyon photo by Brian Richter   Have you ever been in a work meeting or a classroom when you realize that you – and probably everyone else in the room – seemed to be talking at cross purposes and had lost track of the problem you were trying to solve? That’s how many of...

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...

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...

 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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

  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...