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World Rivers Day highlights value of water

Most people will not be aware, but the 15th annual World Rivers Day is set for Sept. 22.

Most people will not be aware, but the 15th annual World Rivers Day is set for Sept. 22.

So what is the day all about?

Well, “World Rivers Day celebrates the values of rivers, increases awareness, and encourages river stewardship and conservation around the globe – massive worldwide event has its roots in British Columbia, Canada going back to 1980,” stated a recent release regarding the day.

Perhaps the use of the word massive oversells the day a tad, at least here in Saskatchewan it doesn’t seem to have a great deal of traction, which is unfortunate.

Anything that raises awareness about the need to better protect our water resources is to my mind critical.

And, “with many of the world’s rivers facing increasing pressures associated with climate change, pollution, and industrial development” as the release noted, that awareness is certainly needed in terms of our rivers.

The announced theme of this year’s event is “waterways in our communities” with a special emphasis on the need to protect and restore urban waterways which are often under great pressure. Many events will focus on educational and public awareness activities while others will include river cleanups, habitat restoration projects, and community riverside celebrations.

Farmers have increasingly become aware of their potential impact on local rivers and streams, paying greater attention to protecting riparian areas -- the interface between land and a river or stream.

The riparian area acts as a natural buffer to protect waterways.

Cattle producers are also moving away from having their stock drink directly from streams and rivers, protecting the waterways with off stream watering.

But, farmers are only one part of the equation in terms of protecting water resources in general, and rivers in particular.

“World Rivers Day strives to increase public awareness of the importance of our waterways as well as the many threats confronting them,” said Mark Angelo, World Rivers Day Chair and Founder and Chair Emeritus of the Rivers Institute at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in the release.

“Rivers are integral to all life. Yet, many of the world’s waterways continue to face an array of threats and are often impacted by inappropriate practices and inadequate protection,” added Angelo.

While there do not seem to be major events around the day locally, it is still an opportunity to think about the importance of our water resource in terms of our lives, growing food, transportation and recreation.

With its diverse importance we need to be vigilant in our protection of the resource.