World Rivers Day – 22 September 2019

Since 2005, every last Saturday of September is celebrated as World Rivers Day. The event was the idea of Mark Angelo, who founded British Columbia (BC) River Day in Canada in 1980. The event is aimed at increasing public awareness and encourage the improved stewardship of rivers, by highlighting that active involvement is needed to ensure their health in the years ahead.

World Rivers Day is set for 22 September this year and brings millions of people from around the world together to celebrate waterways and the many life forms they support.

Rivers are found on every continent and on nearly every kind of land. Some flow all year round. Others flow seasonally or during wet years. A river may be only kilometers long, or it may span much of a continent.

The longest rivers in the world are the Nile in Africa and the Amazon in South America. Both rivers flow through many countries. For centuries, scientists have debated which river is longer. Measuring a river is difficult because it is hard to pinpoint its exact beginning and end. Also, the length of rivers can change as they meander, are dammed, or their deltas grow and recede.

Rivers are important for many reasons:

Rivers carry water and nutrients to areas all around the earth. They play an important part in the water cycle, acting as drainage channels for surface water. Rivers drain nearly 75% of the earth's land surface.

Rivers provide excellent habitat and food for many of the earth's organisms. Many rare plants and trees grow by rivers. Ducks, voles, otters and beavers make their homes on the riverbanks. Reeds and other plants like bulrushes grow along the riverbanks. Other animals use the river for food and drink. Birds such as kingfishers eat small fish from the river. In Africa, animals such as antelopes, lions and elephants go to rivers for water to drink. Other animals such as bears catch fish from rivers. River deltas have many different species of wildlife. Insects, mammals and birds use the delta for their homes and for food.

Rivers provide travel routes for exploration, commerce and recreation.

River valleys and plains provide fertile soils. Farmers in dry regions irrigate their cropland using water carried by irrigation ditches from nearby rivers.

Rivers are an important energy source. During the early industrial era, mills, shops, and factories were built near fast-flowing rivers where water could be used to power machines. Today steep rivers are still used to power hydroelectric plants and their water turbines.

World Rivers Day organisers encourage communities to come out and participate, which might range from a stream clean-up to a community riverside celebration.

Zero Emissions Day PosterWorld Rivers Day Poster 2019 (911 KB)

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