“No force of nature has more powerfully shaped the human adventure than water, for the obvious reason that we can’t live without it. Much of what we call civilization has entailed civilizing this substance—mostly by hemming it in. In this sparkling, flowing, world-spanning narrative, Gies compellingly shows why water will always win in the end, particularly in an urbanizing world facing disruptive climate change. She also reveals, through guides ranging from China’s ‘sponge city’ designers to beavers, how liberating water can liberate us, in turn.”

Andrew Revkin, coauthor of The Human Planet and former New York Times climate reporter


“A gripping investigation into water and the champion sleuths who research it and engage in daunting yet necessary efforts to restore health to a damaged planet…. Considering exploding populations, water inequality, and ever-increasing climate crises, Gies persuasively argues that much must and can be done to improve our understanding of and relationship with water.”



Water Always Wins reveals the mysteries of water’s journey from source to sea, and shows how working with nature can help save us from the ravages of climate change. Through fascinating stories and detailed research, Gies challenges modern societies to relinquish some control, and let water go where it wants to go. This eye-opening book is filled with brilliant insights, creativity, inspiration, and honest hope.”

Sandra Postel, author of Replenish and winner of the 2021 Stockholm Water Prize


“We’ve tried, in every way we know, to control and contain water on this planet. But there are limits to our power, which become clearer as escalating cycles of flooding and drought increasingly make a mockery of our efforts. As Gies ably demonstrates, the time has come to learn some lessons from liquid, and to start trying to live gracefully in our wonderfully aqueous world.”

Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and founder of 350.org


“Vibrant…. An inspiring, insightful book about the myriad ways that ‘water detectives’
are helping water to heal the planet.”

Foreward Reviews


“From California’s agricultural lands to the marshes of Iraq, from beavers to microinvertebrates, from early water cultures in India and Peru to today’s water crises and the challenges of climate change, Gies uses her formidable reporting skills and personal experiences to weave together beautiful stories about water, its impact on our lives, and how it’s long past time to repair our relationship with this most precious resource.”

Peter Gleick, author of The Three Ages of Water and founder of Pacific Institute


“In a world awash with water stress, Gies and the many people featured in her pages are leading the way to a future where people might live in a sustainable relationship with the element that sustains us all. It is entertaining, engaging, and applicable nearly everywhere in the world—every reader will find connections to their home communities here.”

Peter K. Brewitt, author of Same River Twice

“Slow Water”

Trouble with water – extreme and frequent floods and droughts — is one of the first obvious signs of climate change. At the same time, our built environment — urban sprawl, industrial agricultural and the engineered way we manage water — is making things worse. As our control systems fail, we are forced to reckon with an eternal truth: water always wins.

Water Always Wins: Thriving in an age of drought and deluge begins by asking a revolutionary question: What does water want? Most modern development has erased water’s slow phases — wetlands, floodplains, high altitude grasslands and forests — that soften flood peaks, store water for droughts, and keep natural systems healthy. What water wants, say water detectives exploring this question, is a kind of un-engineering that reclaims these slow cycles, offering us greater resilience.

For that reason, author Erica Gies calls their efforts the “Slow Water” movement. Slow Water solutions are place-specific and community oriented. They center on water’s relationships with rocks, microbes, plants, and animals, including humans. Practitioners aim to collaborate with water rather than try to control it. Water Always Wins takes readers on a journey through time and around the world, introducing them to the wonder of water and to people innovating these Slow Water approaches to adapt to climate change and heal our water bodies.

Erica is represented by The Martell Agency in New York, and Water Always Wins is available through the University of Chicago Press in North America and by Head of Zeus in the United Kingdom.

Selected Print Media

Speaking Engagements

  • United Nations 2023 Water Conference, New York City, March 22-24, 2023: Speaker
  • Capps Forum of Ethics and Public Policy, U.C. Santa Barbara, November 16, 2023: Featured speaker
  • Illinois Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management, March 15, 2023: Keynote speaker
  • Tucson Festival of Books, March 4-5, 2023: Presenting author
  • River Restoration Northwest, Skamania, Wash., February 7-10, 2023: Keynote speaker
  • Eco-Farm Conference, Monterey, Calif. January 18-21, 2023: Keynote speaker
  • American Water Resources Association conference, Seattle, November 7, 2022: Keynote speaker
  • Water Education Foundation Water Summit, Sacramento, October 27, 2022: Keynote speaker
  • Frontiers in Hydrology, AGU, San Juan, Puerto Rico, June 22, 2022: Presenter
  • BlueTech Forum, Vancouver, June 6-8, 2022: Keynote speaker