Celebrate World Rivers Day

The River Authority
Sep 22, 2020

World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways. It highlights the many values of our rivers, strives to increase public awareness, and encourages the improved stewardship of all rivers around the world.  Rivers in virtually every country face an array of threats, and only through our active involvement, can we ensure their health in the years ahead.

In honor of this day, we want to celebrate the San Antonio River by sharing its cultural significance as well as information on two international recognitions involving this precious resource.

San Antonio River’s Cultural Significance

July 5 1819 San Antonio River Flood

The San Antonio River Basin is home to rich and varied cultures. The headwaters of the San Antonio River were a gathering place for indigenous peoples over 12,000 years ago, providing precious water in a semi-arid landscape and attracting game. From 1718 to 1731, priests of the Franciscan Order established the San Antonio Missions along the banks of the San Antonio River, where missionaries and Indian laborers tapped the San Antonio River for irrigation, building a system of acequias that watered a variety of crops. In the late 1700s, rich land in this area and the San Antonio River’s reliable water source led to the establishment of big ranchos throughout the basin, and by the mid-1800s, many immigrant communities settled in the area.

Want to learn more about the River’s cultural significance? Click here to view a timeline of important milestones.

UNESCO World Heritage Designation

On July 5, 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee inscribed San Antonio’s five Spanish Colonial Missions on the World Heritage List. The five Missions became the nation’s 23rd World Heritage inscription and the first in Texas.

The San Antonio River played an integral part in the selection process as the river connects all five missions and it also serves as a buffer that helps protect and preserve these sites for future generations.

Thiess International Riverprize

The International Riverprize, presented by the International RiverFoundation, is the world’s foremost award in river basin management. The prize rewards inspiring initiatives that demonstrate Integrated River Basin Management to restore and protect rivers, wetlands, lakes, and estuaries.

In 2014, the San Antonio River was a finalist for this prestigious award along with the Glenelg River in Australia, Petitcodiac River in Canada, and the River Rhine, which runs through several European countries. The River Rhine was selected as the 2014 winner. The San Antonio River was once again among four finalists being considered for the 2017 Thiess International Riverprize, facing close competition from Alaska’s Nushagak and Kvichak Rivers, the United Kingdom’s River Tweed, and the Pasig River in the Philippines. The San Antonio River won the award in 2017 and was recognized in part for the having invested $530 million on various creek and river improvements including the San Antonio River Improvements Project which added flood management, amenities, ecosystem restoration, and recreational improvements to over 13 miles of the San Antonio River.

Join the Celebration!

Share your love of the San Antonio River and Be River Proud! Visit our parks and trails, learn what you can do, and then post photos and videos to our social media channels using #beriverproud.