I grew up in a small town in India-Patna-beside one of the mightiest river systems in the world, the Ganges. It is hard to describe the sacred place that the river has in Indian daily life. From sprinkling the holy water on a new born baby to putting a few drops into the mouth of someone about to die to dissolving the ashes of the dead into her deep embrace, the Ganges is like a mother to most Indians (literally she is often referred to as Ganga Maiya or Mother Ganges). But she can be a tough disciplinarian as well. Growing up next to her teaches you a profound respect for nature and the havoc she can cause. Patna is the capital of the state of Bihar which is one of the poorest states in India. One of the primary reasons for the poverty of the state is the almost annual havoc caused by the flooding of the Ganges and her tributaries in which thousands of lives and billions of rupees are lost. I remember as a little boy waking up in fear late one night hearing government jeeps warning everyone to get out of the way-the river was about to break over its embankments and flood the town.