100 Water Heroes: Dr. Sharon Megdal

Photo: Kelvin Trautman

Photo: Kelvin Trautman

Director of the University of Arizona’s Water Resources Research Center

Dr. Sharon Megdal is the Director of the Water Resources Research Center (WRRC) at the University of Arizona, a research unit within in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Sharon’s research centres on regional and international water policy and water resource management issues and solutions. In addition to her role as Director of WRRC, Sharon holds a number of prestigious positions at the university, including Director of the Water Sustainability Programme and the Co-Director of The University of Arizona Water, Environmental and Energy Solutions Program.

During the final USA leg of #RunningDry, Mina was able to meet Sharon and learn about her work with WRRC. Sharon said that she works as a bridge between researchers and the real world. Much of her work has focused on the Colorado River, and one of the predominant issues she highlighted was the fact that it has been largely over-allocated.

The general health of the Colorado River is of great importance to Arizona, as it accounts for approximately 40% of the water used in the state, and most of the drinking water used daily in the Tucson metro area. Sharon noted the absolute necessity of cutting back on the delivery of water from the Colorado River, particularly because of issues surrounding over-allocation and the ongoing drought.

Sharon also spoke to Mina about the Sweetwater Wetlands project, which is part of the City of Tucson’s reclaimed water system that provides non-potable water to use primarily for turf irrigation. The area is a popular urban wildlife habitat and riparian zone, and is one of many ways that the city and state is looking to offer alternative sources of water rather than relying on the dwindling Colorado River.

Sharon is one of our #100WaterHeroes for the impactful work she has done in the fields of water policy and management, and for successfully leading the Water Resources Research Center.


100 Water Heroes: Christian Golcher

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Researcher at the National University of Costa Rica

Christian Golcher is an EARTH University graduate, from the class of 2008. He works at the Central American and Caribbean Water Resources Center based at the National University in Costa Rica.

His two areas of expertise in research at this centre are (1) the results of pressing human activities over the ecological conditions of rivers and (2) the study of water footprints on rice, banana, pineapple and coffee crops; both with methodologies developed by the Water Footprint Network Foundation.

He has worked in several research projects in Costa Rica, with his base centre in Guanacaste, the driest region in the country. Some of his projects include working with communities to develop their capacities and create procedures to control and restore bodies of water.

Christian’s main interest lies on the country’s rivers, specifically in the Chorotega region. These include the Liberia River and soon the Cañas, Bagaces and Abangares rivers. He also works in identifying the technical needs required for the proper monitoring of bodies of water and water treatment systems.

Christian is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his important water-focused research, and for drawing attention to various issues that affect our world’s water systems.


EARTH University Twitter: @EARTH_Uni 


100 Water Heroes: Gary Woodard


Water Policy & Economics Consultant at Montgomery and Associates

Gary Woodard is a Senior Water Policy and Economics Consultant at Montgomery & Associates, a company that focuses largely on hydrology, geology, soil science, water resource planning and groundwater modelling.

A large part of Gary’s work involves leading a 3-year-long study that seeks to unpack how effective the city of Tucson’s rainwater harvesting subsidies have been. Having completed the first year of this study, Gary has noted that “the first year of data gathering confirms that residential rainwater harvesting has reduced the city’s overall potable water demand” (Weiser, 2018).

Gary has been a great asset to the water sector, and has dealt with water issues as both an academic and a consultant for over 30 years. Prior to his work with Montgomery & Associates, Gary was the Deputy Director of the University of Arizona’s Water Resources Research Center. Additionally, he founded a water conservation alliance and was president of Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR). Gary has also worked closely with UNESCO water centres throughout the world, namely in the Middle East and North Africa.

Gary is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his significant contributions to addressing issues within the water sector, both as an academic and a consultant.


100 Water Heroes: Elizabeth Boyer

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Associate Professor of Water Resources at Penn State University

Elizabeth Boyer is an Associate Professor of Water Resources at Penn State University. She has also been named the Director of the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center, as well as Assistant Director of the Penn State's Institutes of Energy and the Environment.

Elizabeth’s research interests include unpacking the ecological and hydrological systems that impact upon water quality and quantity. Her academic career is filled with a range of varied publications, including a number of papers on the impacts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon on watersheds throughout America. This topic is particularly important because it “provide[s] a scientific basis for design and implementation of land management programs and policies to mitigate the effects of pollution, and to protect, conserve, and restore surface waters.”

Speaking on her interest in how changes to eco-hydrologic systems impact water quality and scarcity, Elizabeth stated:

Many parts of the world already lack clean water, many landscapes are being degraded, and many surface and ground waters are being polluted.  Water scarcity will be an even greater problem in the coming years as demand for water increases with population and economic growth. Concepts and tools from ecohydrology can help achieve sustainable management of water, and to help solve global water problems.

Elizabeth is a member of numerous advisory committees, including the US Environmental Protection Agency where she focuses on air pollution and water resources. She also serves on the National Academies Advisory Committee, evaluating the New York City Watershed Protection Program. Elizabeth’s vast career in the water sector continues on to include being the Editor of the international journal of Hydrological Processes, on the Board of Directors of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrological Sciences and a leader of one of the National Institutes for Water Resources’ centres.

Elizabeth is one of our #100WaterHeroes for helping us to make sense of the hydrological and ecological processes that impact upon water quality and water scarcity.

Twitter: @bethboyerPSU

100 Water Heroes: Lindsey Aldaco-Manner


President at World Youth Parliament for Water

Lindsey Aldaco-Manner is the President of the World Youth Parliament for Water (WYPW), a youth network that advocates for safe, clean water throughout the world. Stretching across 80 countries, WYPW comprises of dynamic young people seeking change in the water sector. Their work ranges from active engagement with local communities to advocating for youth involvement in the water sector at the United Nations General Assembly.

As President, Lindsey leads the WYPW in their goal to activate youth participation in the decision-making processes of water industries around the world. In addition to her work with WYPW, Lindsey is also a Research Assistant for the Dean of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the American University of Beruit, where she explores water governance in Lebanon, and Water-Energy-Food Nexus governance in the Middle East.

Throughout these various facets of her career, Lindsey has exhibited a passion for inspiring change in the water industry, and has worked tirelessly to advocate for sustainable, community-based water management. Lindsey has also been a key supporter of the #RunningDry, and has contributed a hefty 59km to the movement. With her expertise on the water sector, Lindsey meaningfully spotlights #RunningDry and its message.

Lindsey is one of our #100WaterHeroes for her dedication to solving global water issues, and for being a key member of the #RunningDry movement.


Twitter: @LindseyAManner 

100 Water Heroes: Karma Loveday


Water Policy Advisor and Founder & Editor of The Water Report

Karma Loveday is a respected Water Policy Advisor and Journalist in the water industry. Her passion for writing about emergent water issues led Karma to found The Water Report, a monthly publication that focuses on the UK water and sewerage sector. Using rigorous research and reports, The Water Report unpacks various local issues surrounding water policy and regulation.

Karma is a well-established voice in the water sector, and has spent more than 19 years researching and writing about the industry. Prior to this, Karma obtained a Bachelor of Arts from King’s College London, and continued on to become a Senior Reporter for Water Services Magazine and Water and Environment International magazine.

Karma is also the Chairperson of the Major Energy Users' Council (MEUC) Water Competition Group and Water Market Policy Group. In addition to chairing these groups, Karma provides a monthly bulletin to all members of MEUC, detailing current water issues in the sector.

Karma is one of our #100WaterHeroes for tirelessly researching and writing about water issues in the UK, and for using her voice to spread awareness of the global water crisis.


Twitter: @KarmaOckenden 

100 Water Heroes: Kelsey Leonard


Shinnecock Tribal Co-Lead on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body of the U.S. National Ocean Council

Kelsey Leonard currently serves as the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s Tribal Co-Lead on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body of the U.S. National Ocean Council. In conjunction with tribal, federal and state entities, Kelsey aids in the protection and conservation of American oceans.

In 2012, Kelsey became the first Native American woman to have receive a degree from the University of Oxford, where she obtained an MSc in Water Science. Kelsey seeks to advocate for the conservation of Indigenous waters and “has been instrumental in protecting the interests of Tribes with the development of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan.”

Kelsey is also a successful academic, and is busy doing her PhD in Comparative Public Policy at McMaster University. Her research focus is on Indigenous water security and its climatic, territorial, and governance underpinnings. At McMaster University, Kelsey is a Trillium Scholar in Water Policy, as well as a Research Assistant for the Water Economics, Policy and Governance Network (WEPGN).

Kelsey is a scholar who uses her academic expertise to advocate for Indigenous communities affected by climate change and the global water crisis. This makes her one of our #100WaterHeroes.


Twitter: @KelseyTLeonard 

100 Water Heroes: Dr. Valerie Naidoo


Executive Manager at Water Research Commission

Dr. Valerie Naidoo is the Executive Manager of Business Development and Innovations at the Water Research Commission (WRC) where she is leading innovative water research and development initiatives. The WRC “funds and facilitates research in water-related innovation and disseminates such knowledge for the advancement of national water security.”

Prior to her work with WRC, Valerie obtained her Masters and PhD in Water Treatment Systems. She worked as a Project Coordinator for the Pollution Research Group, and continued on to join Unilever’s Research and Development Manager in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

Valerie is also currently the Chairperson of the Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA), a non-profit company that seeks to encourage, “professional excellence in the water sector through building expertise, sharing knowledge and improving quality of life.”

Valerie is one of our #100WaterHeroes for leading key research initiatives in the water and development sectors of South Africa.


100 Water Heroes: Rudo Angela Sanyanga

African Programme Director for International Rivers.

Rudo Angela Sanyanga is the African Programme Director for International Rivers. She provides assistance and support to African communities and NGOs looking to safeguard themselves “from the destructive impacts of large dams.”

Much of Rudo’s work centres around monitoring proposed dam projects and helping those negatively affected by dam construction. She is also focused on encouraging decentralised, sustainable energy alternatives to large dams.

Prior to working with International Rivers, Rudo was an Aquatic Ecology Researcher, university lecturer and Environmental Consultant. She holds a Masters Degree in Applied Hydrobiology, as well as a PhD in Aquatic Systems Ecology.

Rudo is one of our #100WaterHeroes for her leadership of International Rivers’ Africa program, as she protects rivers and advocates for communities affected by the construction of destructive dams.


100 Water Heroes: Eli Raz


Geologist and Researcher for the Dead Sea and Arava Research Center

Eli Raz is an Israeli Geologist and Researcher for the Dead Sea and Arava Research Center. He is widely thought of as the area’s most knowledgeable expert on sinkholes, a topic that is particularly pertinent in terms of the Dead Sea. Eli estimates that there are over 3000 sinkholes on the Israeli side of the Dead Sea, something that will continue to degenerate without active solutions.

The Dead Sea is typically fed by the Jordan River but, with unsustainable agricultural practices and various other harmful human interventions, it is fast disappearing. A significant part of this crisis is the dropping salt water levels, meaning that “fresh groundwater wells up and dissolves layers of salt, creating large underground cavities, above which sinkholes form” (Lewis, 2015).

Eli does feel a certain level of frustration, as he has been trying to alert authorities to this deadly issue for years, stating, “For more than 30 years, I’ve been studying them and trying to warn everyone—especially government officials—that if we don’t do something about the situation in the Dead Sea, the sinkholes will swallow us up.” His proposed solution involves rehabilitating the Jordan River and making use of desalination to supply the Israeli population with water. Integral to this, however, is “a systemic, cooperative regional approach to water sharing” (Prince-Gibson, 2013).

Speaking on the issue, Eli noted, “Water should not be a reason for conflict—there isn’t enough to argue about, certainly not in the Dead Sea basin. Water should be the reason for smart, regional cooperation.”

Eli is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his invaluable contributions to sinkhole research and for raising awareness of the disappearing Dead Sea.

100 Water Heroes: Dr. Ayman Rabi

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Executive Director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group

Dr. Ayman Rabi is the Executive Director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG), an NGO that is “working to improve access to water and sanitation services, and to monitor pollution and climate change in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

PHG was founded in 1987 with the goal to protect and conserve water and environmental resources, and is now the largest NGO in Palestine. In addition to their water conservation efforts, PHG aims to ensure widespread access to clean, safe water and WASH facilities. Because of the ever-worsening water crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as neglected water-related infrastructure, PHG proceeded by “carrying out development work and promoting the more effective and efficient use and reuse of existing water resources.”

Prior to his involvement with PHG, Ayman obtained an MSc and PhD in Water Resources Engineering, as well as an MBA in Business Administration. Ayman has over 25 years of experience in water and environmental-related fields. He has contributed to numerous local and international research endeavours surrounding water and the environment.

Ayman is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his leadership of the Palestinian Hydrology Group, and for his contributions to water and environment-related research.


100 Water Heroes: Habiba Al Marashi


President of Arabia CSR Network & Co-Founder and Chairperson of Emirates Environmental Group (EEG)

Habiba Al Marashi is the co-founder and Chairperson of the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), an organisation that seeks to conserve the environment “through the means of education, action programs and community involvement.” Under Habiba’s leadership, EEG has successfully organised a range of initiatives surrounding environmental education, waste management and recycling, research and public campaigns.

In addition to her impactful work with EEG, Habiba has also launched the Arabia CSR Network, the first corporate social responsibility (CSR) network in Dubai. The Arabia CSR Network is the first multi-stakeholder collaboration that “engages small and large businesses and government institutions to strengthen their commitment to sustainable development across the Arab world.”

Habiba is also a co-founder of the Emirates Green Building Council, a board member of the UN Global Compact and President of the UN Global Compact Local Network for the GCC States.

Habiba is one of our #100WaterHeroes for her meaningful contributions to achieving environmental sustainability in the United Arab Emirates.


100 Water Heroes: Kuang Shangfu


President of the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR)

Kuang Shangfu is the President of the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR). IWHR provides a range of water-related services, such as flood management, water resource allocation, water-saving construction practices and many more.

In addition to his position as President of IWHR, Kuang holds a PhD from Kyoto University, and is the Director of the International Research and Training Center on Erosion and Sedimentation. He is also a council member of the Chinese Hydraulic Engineering Society.

IWHR has been responsible for research and consultancy in a range of large projects throughout China. The seek to “provide scientific and technological support and assurance to the sustainable development of water resources in China.”

Kuang is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his work with IWHR, and for his commitment to sustainable development in China.

100 Water Heroes: Dr. P.K Mishra


Director of the Indian Association of Soil and Water Conservationists

Dr. P.K Mishra is the Director of the Indian Association of Soil and Water Conservationists (IASWC), an NGO that seeks to “encourage wise land use planning and conservation of soil and water resources so that these basic resources can be utilised to sustain mankind.” Since 1973, IASWC has published the Indian Journal of Soil Conservation, a journal that explores research ranging from degraded land management to agroforestry. Under P.K’s directorship, IASWC has become a respected coalition of “scientists, conservation professionals, administrators and policy makers in assessing the need for soil and water conservation and watershed management.”

Prior to his work with IASWC, P.K graduated from Orissa Orissa University of Agriculture with an M. Tech in Soil and Water Conservation Engineering. He continued on to obtain his PhD in Agricultural Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. In addition to his impressive academic qualifications, P.K has over 30 years experience of field research. He has over 220 publications, including 64 journal publications, 10 books and 39 book chapters.

P.K’s main focus has been drought management and the documentation of indigenous technical knowledge, as well as the development of research watersheds and climate change research initiatives. During his time as the Secretary of Indian Society of Dryland Agriculture (ISDA), P.K organised the “National Symposium on Climate Change and Rainfed Agriculture” in Hyderabad.

P.K is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his work with the Indian Association of Social and Water Conservation, and for dedicating his career to achieving environmental sustainability in India.

Research Gate:

100 Water Heroes: Dr. Sara Ahmed


Gender and Water Policy Specialist

Dr. Sara Ahmed is a Gender and Water Policy Specialist, with close to 30 years of applied research experience on water, livelihoods and social equity. Sara is an Adjunct Professor at Ahmedabad University where she is pioneering their digital water museum, and “engaging young students, local communities and diverse professionals from the water sector, history, architecture and the arts to document our water heritage through visual narratives.” Sara is also currently on the board of WaterAid India.

Prior to this, Sara attained a Phd in Social and Political Sciences and an MPhil in International Relations from the University of Cambridge. Sara worked as a Senior Program Specialist for the International Development Research Centre (IRDC) in Asia, managing research portfolios on water, food security and climate change. In 2012, she co-edited a book entitled Diverting the Flow: Gender, Equity and Water in South Asia; one of her many publications exploring issues of gender and water management.

Dr. Sara Ahmed is one of our #100WaterHeroes because of her experience in the water sector, and her focus on the intersection of water, climate change and gender.


100 Water Heroes: Dr. Rajendra Singh

Founder and Chairman of Tarun Bharat Sangh


Widely known as the Waterman of India, Dr. Rajendra Singh is a respected water conservationist and environmentalist from Rajasthan, India. In 1975, Rajendra founded Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS), an NGO that focuses on ecological research and land development, aiming to provide fresh, clean water to local inhabitants. Using johad, rainwater storage tanks, check dams, and both traditional and modern techniques, TBS has transformed water access in over 1000 villages, and revived five rivers in Rajasthan, Arvari, Ruparel, Sarsa, Bhagani and Jahaj Wali.

In 2009, Rajendra was awarded the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize for his life’s work of “building social capacity to solve local water problems through participatory action, empowerment of women, linking indigenous know-how with modern scientific and technical approaches and upending traditional patterns of development, resource use, and social norms” (Cele, 2015).  

Rajendra is an Ayurvedic medicine graduate, with a postgraduate degree in Hindi literature. He currently serves as Chairman of TBS and is actively involved in a wide range of water-related NGOs and initiatives throughout the world.

Rajendra is one of our #100WaterHeroes for his prolific work in water conservation and environmentalism, and for being the Waterman of India.

Twitter: @watermanofindia


100 Water Heroes: Yusup Kamalov

By Kelvin Trautman

By Kelvin Trautman

Chairman of the Union for the Defence of the Aral Sea and Amu Darya

Yusup Kamalov is a Senior Researcher at the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences, specialising in Wind Energy. He also founded the Union for the Defence of the Aral Sea and Amu Darya, and currently still serves as its chairman. Since 2010, Yusup has also served as chairman of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) for Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Yusup has dedicated much of his career to fighting for the preservation of the Aral Sea, which is situated between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and was once the fourth biggest freshwater lake in the world. In the last 30 years, however, “massive irrigation projects diverted millions of gallons of water from the two major rivers feeding the Aral Sea,” often for cotton fields and rice paddies. By the beginning of the 1980s, the fresh water supply feeding the Aral Sea was cut off (Ganter, 2010).

When asked about the Aral Sea’s future, Yusup stresses the importance of a globally unified approach to its preservation, stating:

“If we are not able to save such a small lake, how can we save the planet? It would be a good example for people that we can do it, even on a small scale.  If are we not able to do it, then everybody might doubt we can save our planet. This is why we have to save the Sea.” (in Ganter, 2010)

Yusup is one of our #100WaterHeroes because of his unwavering efforts to save the Aral Sea, and for dedicating much of his career and life to this cause.


100 Water Heroes: Elodie Brelot & Bernard Chocat

Director of GRAIE & Founder and Honourary President of GRAIE


Today’s #100WaterHeroes are GRAIE’s Director, Elodie Brelot, and their Founder and Honourary President, Bernard Chocat. GRAIE is a French NPO, who describe themselves as “a group of research, technical coordination and water information that has been mobilising and bringing together stakeholders in the fields of water management, aquatic environments and urban planning.”

GRAIE’s four key themes include:

Urban Water // Water and Public Health // Aquatic Environments // Urban Drainage

Under Elodie’s leadership, GRAIE was particularly influential in their endorsement of the IWA Principles for Water-Wise Cities, “which encourage collaborative action, underpinned by a shared vision, so that local governments, urban professionals, and individuals actively engage in addressing and finding solutions for managing all waters of the city.”

Following completion of a thesis in Urban Hydrology, Elodie became Director of GRAIE in 1994, where she works towards connecting both scientists and professionals in the water management sector.

by Kelvin Trautman

by Kelvin Trautman

Our second #100WaterHero for today is Bernard Chocat who, in addition to being founder and honourary president of GRAIE, is also a skilled professor at Lyon’s National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA), and specialises in urban water. It was an honour to have Bernard run with me along some of the Beaujolais marathon route, and to hear him speak about some of the region’s water management issues.

Elodie Brelot and Bernard Chocat are today’s #100WaterHeroes because of their work with GRAIE, and their commitment to connecting scientists and professionals in the water management sector.

Twitter: @ asso_graie

Elodie Linkedin:

GRAIE Linkedin:


Lyon, France

100 Water Heroes: Nicci Russell

Managing Director of Waterwise


Our fourth Water Hero, Nicci Russell, is the Managing Director of Waterwise, an independent, non-profit NGO in the UK whose mission is to reduce water consumption throughout the UK. Waterwise is a particularly impactful organisation in that it encourages innovative water-saving behaviour amongst governments, industry and citizens alike. Waterwise is widely considered a “leading authority on water efficiency in the UK,” with their work including research, technological and policy innovation, as well as media and events.

Prior to her role as Managing Director, Nicci was Policy Director and co-founder of Waterwise from 2005. Beyond her work with Waterwise, Nicci also served as special advisor for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for four years.

Martin Bradbury, chair of Waterwise, describes Nicci as “a highly respected leader in the water sector, with in-depth knowledge and experience.”

Nicci Russell is one of our #100WaterHeroes because of her work with Waterwise and her overall dedication to significantly reducing water consumption throughout the UK.





London, England

100 Water Heroes: Dr. Liz Goodwin

Senior Fellow and Director of Food Loss and Waste for the World Resources Institute

by Kelvin Trautman

by Kelvin Trautman

Dr. Liz Goodwin is the World Resource Institute’s Senior Fellow and Director of Food Loss and Waste. In addition to her work with the WRI, Liz is also the Chair of the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), an appointment by the Mayor of London. In 2015, Liz was awarded an OBE by the Queen for her contributions to the Business Resources Efficiency and the Environment

With a PhD in chemistry and professional background as a Scientific Researcher for the ICI, Liz began focusing on issues of environmental sustainability after “realising the vital role that care for the environment was likely to have in the future.” Liz vocally supports UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, whose goal is to cut global food waste in half by 2030. Through her work with the WRI, she drives a number of initiatives that assist in realising this goal.

Liz’s focus on significantly reducing food wastage is intrinsically linked to saving water - the food we eat is made up of large amounts of invisible water, with agriculture alone accounting for 92% of our global water footprint (Hoekstra & Mekonnen, 2012). This means that, when food is wasted, so is the water that went into making it.

Liz Goodwin is one of our #100WaterHeroes because of her long-standing commitment to environmental sustainability, and her tireless efforts towards making SDG 12.3 a reality by 2030.

Twitter: @LizGoodwin


Oxford, UK