World's Waterways

Part of my role as a Water Detective means travel abroad, where my research has taken me to some of the most exotic waters in the world. Water remains as vital to the environment as it is to people, and it never ceases to amaze me. Each place inspires me in a new and different way, and I am going with the flow to some of my favorite destinations around the world to document waters’ wonder.

Canals aid with transport throughout St. Petersburg, Russia.


The World's Water: Russia

Russia is a really interesting place for a water researcher. It’s not only the largest country in the world, but it possesses one fifth of the world's fresh water reserve. The central and southern regions, where eighty percent of the country’s population is concentrated, have only eight percent of the country's total water resources. How can a country of this size sustain the populations water needs? I learned on my recent visit that the answer lies in the many rivers of Russia, where water is the key to supporting the people and their livelihoods.

Water has always been an important economic driver and integral part of the rich history and culture in Russia. The communities built along the rivers that crisscross the country are rich in trade and transport. The excellent fare of fish would not be so grand if it were not tied to the river systems and a shoreline that touches the Arctic Ocean, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and Sea of Okhotsk (Pacific Ocean). The Volga, Russia's largest river and the national river of the country, flows through eleven large cities, including the capital, Moscow. The beautiful rivers in Russia are vital to tourism, as well.

One of my favorite stops along the way was to one of the world's most amazing technological achievements: Peterhof Palace. The beautiful palace and gardens were built by order of Peter the Great between 1714 and 1725. I was in awe of the approximately 175 fountains and four cascades operating without the use of any pumps. Water is supplied from natural springs and collects in reservoirs in the Upper Gardens, and the elevation difference creates the pressure that drives most of the fountains of the Lower Gardens, including the Grand Cascade.

The Samson Fountain, one the most prominent displays, is supplied by a special aqueduct, over four kilometers in length, drawing water and pressure from a high-elevation source. This engineering feat, used from ancient times, is what drove early waterworks around the world. Russia is truly a beautiful place, and a great example of the pivotal role water plays around the world.

View from the I.D. Papanin Institute for Biology and Inland Waters, Russian Academy of Sciences, Borok, Yaroslavl, Russia

View from the Neva river at night, St. Petersburg.

A view of the lower gardens at Peterhof Palace.

Peterhof Palace, built by order of Peter the Great.

The Sampson Fountain is a particularly impressive architectural feat from the time.

Another view of the Sampson Fountain and the beautiful palace gardens.