Waterways in America require assistance. There are many threats, including industrial pollution, poorly managed growth, and climate change. According to a report released today by the conservation organization American Rivers, assistance may be on the way in some situations, but only with the backing of the general people and legislators.
Since 1984, an annual report titled “America’s Most Endangered Rivers” has been published. Each study discusses 10 vulnerable rivers, each of which is awaiting a decision that could be influenced by the public, such as whether to tear down a dam or order polluters to remove waste.
The document focuses on endangered rivers where there is something that people could actually do to really improve things there rather than a literal description of the rivers where the magnitude of threats is greatest, according to Eve Vogel, a geographer from the University of Massachusetts Amherst who was not involved with the report but occasionally works with American Rivers.
According to Princeton University hydrologist Reed Maxwell, I enjoy the emphasis on action. He expressed the hope that the publication of the study will inspire people to join organizations working to safeguard the threatened rivers identified in the document and those that support local rivers.
Read More: The Society of Authors Has Started a Campaign to Help the Publishing Industry Reach “Net Zero.”
New Threats Compound Old Problems
According to Amy Souers Kober, vice president of communications for American Rivers, climate change makes issues like dams, poorly thought-out development projects, and industrial pollutants worse for rivers.
One of the best examples is the Colorado River’s Grand Canyon segment, which ranks number 1 on the list. Colorado supports 2,300 kilometers (1,450 miles) of river ecosystems and provides drinking water for 40 million people as well as irrigation for 5.5 million acres (2.2 million hectares) of farmland. However, as a result of climate change, the river has been overtaxed and the water supply has decreased along its banks.
Sandbars in the Grand Canyon have degraded without large flows that move sand and debris, harming nearby ecosystems. According to the research, it should be a top priority to replicate the natural flow of water to prevent this area from turning into an ecological sacrifice zone. American Rivers urges the public to participate in the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s public comment session on its plans for managing the flow of water through the Grand Canyon.
Daryl Vigil, a member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation and a co-facilitator of the Water & Tribes Initiative, noted that the Grand Canyon receives a lot of attention due to how amazing it is, but the entire river should also be conserved.
Lack of water hinders efforts to build sustainable economies for the tribes in the Colorado basin and exacerbates injustices brought on by issues like COVID-19, according to Vigil.
Over the past 50 years, environmental restrictions have helped to reduce pollution, but certain rivers now face the threat of reverting to earlier issues. For instance, the One Lake project, a private real estate development, threatens the Pearl River in Mississippi, which is number 3 on the list.
Dredging that is planned may upset long-dormant industrial pollutants on the riverbed, and dam building may concentrate untreated sewage in towns downstream. American Rivers is requesting that the One Lake development be rejected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
No one should be exclusive about who receives what water, according to Martha Watts, mayor of Monticello, Mississippi.
Each river’s description is accompanied by an action button on the American Rivers website, which makes it simple for users to send emails to the proper decision-makers urging them to protect rivers.
Another way the general people can have a significant impact on river health is by joining or contributing to a group that fights for a nearby watershed, according to hydrogeologist Christine Hatch from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who occasionally works with American Rivers staff. Local organizations can promote modest improvements that, when combined, can lead to more significant ones, the speaker noted.
Read More: Why It’s Important for USA to Feel Sad About Climate Change?
Widespread Issues And Solutions
The United States is home to many endangered rivers. These are the ones the report singles out:
- Colorado River through the Grand Canyon (Arizona)
- Ohio River (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia)
- Pearl River (Louisiana and Mississippi)
- Snake River (Idaho, Oregon, and Washington)
- Clark Fork River (Montana)
- Eel River (California)
- Lehigh River (Pennsylvania)
- Chilkat and Klehini Rivers (Alaska)
- Rio Gallinas (New Mexico)
- Okefenokee Swamp (Georgia)
Some of these rivers have been listed in the past. In some instances, rivers have been eliminated due to an improvement in their circumstances. For instance, the Minnesota Boundary Waters made the list the previous year because of a proposed mine’s threat to the area. The Biden administration’s actions helped reduce the risk. According to Souers Kober, some of these significant achievements are influenced by the yearly list of threatened rivers.
Souers Kober singled out the Snake River in eastern Washington as one she’s paying close attention to this year. There are now reservoirs along a river that was once free to flow thanks to four federal dams. These reservoirs frequently have water temperatures that are unsafe for salmon, which is one of the reasons their populations are declining.
In order to remove the dams, state and federal decision-makers are currently exploring alternatives to the services they currently supply. We’ve never been this close to finding a solution, which makes this a thrilling time, according to Souers Kober.
areas of color and tribal nations are frequently left to face the brunt of problems caused by poorly managed rivers, and American Rivers has taken care to emphasize the voices of people from these areas in the report.
Read More: Scientists Find a “Breathtaking Mix” of Biodiversity in The Deep-Sea Reefs of The Galápagos Islands!
However, historically silenced groups might be starting to speak up in water management. According to Vigil, water managers have grown increasingly open to collaborating with indigenous nations to find just solutions to their water issues during the past ten years. According to him, several states have established Native American seats on the boards that oversee the use of the Colorado River, which is proof of significant steps in the state’s recognition of that parity of sovereignty.
It is important that these adjustments occur. According to Vigil, communities along the Colorado River have reached a turning point in their interactions with water. He questioned, “In the future, who are we going to be in terms of this life-giving resource?”