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Rivers at Risk

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amelia marchese

on 17 August 2013

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Transcript of Rivers at Risk

Rivers At Risk
White Hat- Information
Black Hat- Threats/problems
Red hat-How does it help the people and community?
Yellow hat- what are the strengths/ good points
The Nile River
This term our homework assignment was to research the ten top rivers at risk in the world. I have chosen five of which are
The Nile
The Yangtze
The Mekong
The Murray- Darling
The Rio Grande/ Rio Bravo
The Nile river is the world's longest river reaching 6695 km in length and is located in north-eastern Africa. The size of the basin is 3254 853km2 and flows through ten countries including Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Eritrea and Congo. The two main sources of the Nile are thought to be Lake Victoria but are actually the White and Blue Nile. The White Nile is the longer one out of the two tributaries, though the blue Nile is the rivers main water supply. The origin of the White Nile is in Central Africa, further than southern Rwanda. It flows through Lake Victoria, Uganda, Tanzania, and southern Sudan. This is called White because the sediment in the water makes it a grey colour. The Blue Nile originates from Lake Tana in Ethiopia. It's called this because during floods, the water levels get so high, that it changes colour to a dark blue or black. The mouth of the Nile is the Mediterranean Sea where it drains out it's water. This section is called the Nile Delta. This delta is formed where the Nile branches off into northern Egypt. It is the worlds largest river delta and is particularly fertile. 160km long from north to south and from west to east, 240km along the coastline. The Name of the river came from the Greek word: Neilos, meaning "valley". The Ancient Egyptians used to call the river "Ar" or "Aur" (meaning black) because the Nile floods in Egypt left black sediment.
Blue hat- what is the government doing?
The Nile Basin Initiative(NBI) is a program that supports and seeks to develop the Nile river in a collaborative way. To ensure the rivers safety, this organisation has different programs that include environmental and watershed management (reforestation and erosion control, increase capacity of power systems for water storage, flood control, hydro power and irrigation. NBI have funded $130 million in 2008 and $14.4 million has been considered. These donors to the NBI include Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia and Estonia. In 1998, the NBI, untied with all riparian countries except Eritrea, to discuss on a partnership between them to simplify management and environmental development of the River Nile.

The Egyptian government have made extensive plans in regards to the Nile's future. Several of these schemes involve planning for up to fifty to sixty years ahead. Is that enough time to save this ancient river?
The Nile faces major threats and issues that have polluted and damaged the river, some include climate change, invasive species and pollution. Despite the rivers length, in dry periods, the river does not reach the Mediterranean, due to heavy extraction (used for irrigation) and high evaporation.

The Nile's water and its inhabitants are extremely sensitive to climate change and condensation changes. Climate change will have significant consequences on fisheries. This affects the fish populations and how they are dispersed. Small temperature changes can change water levels resulting in increasing fish production and capacity. Due to climate warming the interruption in salt water into freshwater supplies is to likely surge and would reduce the availability of clean water in the delta region.

Extraction means to take away
Condensation is the process of vapor turning into a liquid
More threats
360 million people are living along the Nile basin, including about half of Egypt's population of 80 million(most of these people live in the delta region).For around 6000 years the Nile has been used mostly for transportation and irrigation in Africa.
The Nile played a important role to the Ancient Egyptians. The Egyptians only settled in Egypt because of the presence of the Nile. It started with small settlements around the border of the Nile and as the civilization grew, the dependence of the Nile and its role in the economy increased. The Nile became a focal point of the Ancient Egyptians religious beliefs, values and practices. The rivers ability to produce fertile soil was need in Egypt with such little rainfall and dry conditions. When the Nile flooded it provided alot of water for drinking and irrigation. Papyrus reeds that grew along the river was also used for paper. The Nile also helped the Egyptians make the pyramids by transporting granite from Aswan down the river on giant barges made from papyrus reeds. It is said that the Egyptians may even have used the Nile to transport peasants as well as supplies.

These days, the Nile's water is used for the same purposes, such as drinking , irrigation and source of transportation. Also the river is used for hydro- electricity, tourism, fishing and industrial use. More than 20% of Sudan's crop area has been provided with the Nile's water
One of the strengths of the Nile is obviously it's length. Having a longer river is an advantage for the people living close. For irrigation and drinking water. In ancient times, even the floods of the river were beneficial. They left alot of fertile soil in areas like Egypt, and is really good for growing crops.
Salinization is when an amount of minerals and salts in the soil have reached a level so high, that plants and crops cant be grown anymore.
Tributaries are smaller rivers or lakes flowing in larger rivers
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Yellow hat
The Yangtze river(also called Chang Jiang meaning "long river") is China's longest river and the third longest in the world after the Nile and Amazon. Its length is 6300km, starting from Tibetan Plateau in the mountains on Qinghai and drains out into East China Sea in Shanghai. The drainage basin of the river covers 20% of China's total area. The basins size is close to 2 million km2 and is the one of the most important ecosystems on the planet. Large cities including Chongquing, Wohan, Nanjing lie in the basin. The source of the Yangtze are the glaciers on the west of Geladandong mountain in the Dangla Mountain Range on the eastern part of Tibetan Plateau. The Yangtze delta is 66700km2 and consists of a large number of tributaries, lakes and riverbeds. Major cities in the delta, include Wuxi, Suzhou and Shanghai (at the mouth).
In Daning river( the largest tributary of the Yangtze) there are the Three Gorges Dam. This dam is the largest hydro-electric power station in the world. The Three Gorges are called the Dragon Gate Gorge, Misty Gorge and Emerald Gorge. This section of the river helps control flooding in the basin and was built to survive through a 7.0 magnitude earthquake.. The dam cost $59 million and 15 years to construct. This project has been the biggest in China since the Great Wall.
1.3 million (40% of China's population) live along the Yangtze river. This river is the most significant in China, along with the Yellow river. For two centuries this river has been used immensely for transportation. The river is one of the most busiest in the world. The Yangtze river basin cruises are becoming very popular tourist attractions. Ships also use the river for transporting manufactured goods, coal or cargo and passenger traffic.
The Yangtze provides more than 70% of China's rice and fishery production, 50% grain, 40% of the countries gross domestic product and most importantly 40% of China's freshwater resources.
The Yangtze basin supports half of China's animal and plant species. The Yangtze is home to many endangered marine species including the finless porpoise and also home to 350 other fish species. In the upper area of the Yangtze alone, lives 261 species out of the 350 and 44 of which only lives in that one region. Some of these include the giant Yangtze Sturgeon. The critically endangered species which include the Chinese Paddlefish, was thought to be extinct until they were found in the Yangtze. The Chinese River Dolphin, the most endangered cetacean in the world is found in the river too. The basin is also home to the giant panda, Chinese alligator and snow leopard.
The three gorges dam on the Yangtze has had impact on the rivers water. The Chinese government is working with the Nature Conservancy and major hydropower companies to develop approvable and healthy alternatives to the dams operation and plans on the Yangtze. This project insists on the improvement of electricity production and flood control in a sustainable way without harming the ecosystems.
This plan includes:
-Release water flows from main dams to help sustain fish populations
- Improve the Yangtze's important floodplain wetlands which helps provide drinkable water to millions of people
-Organise a funding for freshwater conservations. Funding would promote the restoration of food plains, flood risk management, ecological and health programs designed to slow down the spread of diseases in the river.
The Chinese government has responded to the rapid decline of the Yangtze river dolphin and other species in the river between 1985-87. They issued the "Circular for the Protection of Precious and Rare Wildlife" and the "Urgent Circular Banning Hunt, Trade and Smuggling of Precious and Rare Animals", deciding the new law of these species. Since 2000, the businesses along the Yangtze has established a three-month fishing ban, during the spawning season, but later extended it to a four-month ban.
Black hat
The Yangtze river and basin face a huge number of threats during it's long history: pollution, construction, water infrastructure, illegal fishing, agriculture and industry. The river that used to be clean is now polluted and dirty. The Yangtze is 60% of the countries pollution and largest source of marine pollution. Before the pollution of the Yangtze, you could drop a pen in the river and still see it laying on the mud from the bottom.
The discharge of rubbish and sewage in the river has reached 42% of China's total rubbish discharge: 25 billion tonnes. Other pollutants include illegal substances, nitrogen, flammable compounds, heavy metals and mineral fertilizers. The Yangtze river is now the most polluted river in the world.
The impact of the Three Gorges dam has resulted in pollution increase by rapid industrial and housing development. There has been a 73% increase in pollution levels over the last 50 years from cities in the main branch of the Yangtze.
More threats
Over the last half a century, China's population has doubled. Houses and industries have been built along the river. Examples are erosion, sedimentation and industrial pollution. These threats have degraded water quality and wetland landscapes.The river is the most threatened towards dam building, 105 dams are now under construction on the main stream of the Yangtze and it's main tributaries. Potential environmental damage has been warned by critics that come from China's Three gorges dam. The benefits of this project is the reduction of carbon emissions. Recently, scientists have proven that these dams cause greenhouse gases getting released into the atmosphere. The breaking down of vegetation and organic materials in the reservoirs actually releases carbon dioxide into the air.Ten million tonnes of plastic bags, bottles, trees and animal corpses that the dam has blocked, which will eventually flow out into the ocean, polluting water and choking animals.
Wetlands have been separated into smaller areas of land, causing disruption in natural processes. Deforestation has destroyed the "sponge"(soaking up) function in soil, making erosion and flooding worst.
Some of the species in the Yangtze are under threat. The Finless Porpoise is a freshwater dolphin that is highly endangered and is facing problems from droughts and increases in pollution levels, experts have warned. The species may face extinction if pollution increases.
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The Mekong River is the largest basin in south-east Asia and is the 12th largest, by volume in the world. Its roughly 4,600km in length, originating from the mountains of Qinghai in China(same as the Yangtze), close to Tibet. It then flows south passing through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Along it's lengthy course, it forms borders between Laos and Myanmar and Between Laos and Thailand. The river ends in southern Vietnam where it drains out into South China Sea at the delta(one of the largest in the world). The Mekong is divided up into two sections- the upper Mekong basin in Tibet and the lower Mekong basin from Yunnan to it's mouth( South China Sea).The basin is 805 604 km2 and has a drainage basin that is twice the size of Germany. The Mekong's average discharge annually is 475 km3, ranking the eighth highest discharge in the world.

Several organisations have been working with the Japanese government, ensuring the rivers survival. One of these groups are WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and has come up with strategies to sustain and overcome the issues along the Mekong. These two strategies are:
Arrange a sustainable and healthy hydro power station to decrease the amount of water and air pollution from dams.
Strengthen the protection area to secure the river
'The Mekong River Commision' (MRC) have since September, 2010, been debating with countries-Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand, on whether the Xayaburi dam project should continue or not. The This dam is said to be the first of it's kind.

Freshwater fisheries have earned more than $11.7 billion on supplying fish for markets along the Mekong. People living in the basin don't have many foods providing protein, where as fish provides 80% of people protein, making the food very popular in this region. The countries south of the Mekong basin have the highest dependence on fisheries in the world. An estimated 2 million tonnes of fish are caught annually.
Communities have been living along the Mekong river for 4000 years. Roughly, 60 million, 80% of the population rely on the rivers water and wetlands for their food, water and culture. As a result of all it's floods, the Lower Mekong Basin is the most produce river fishery in the world. Other main economic values include irrigation, power generation, transportation, food supply and tourism.
The benefits from floods in the Mekong region help grow plants including bamboo which communities such as the Greater Annamites use to make furnniture or even houses. Other grasses and rattan were for weaving baskets and bags and occasionally harvested for medical purposes including bandages and medicines.
The timing of floods alert communities when it's time to start planting crops and harvesting fish. Other uses of the river and its tributaries are for cooking and cleaning.
Unfortunately, climate change has reduced fish stocks and food supplies.

Overfishing is one of the major threats along the Mekong river basin. Subsistence fishing has been the main cause of the decrease in fish populations throughout the river, despite productivity. Subsistence fishing is when people fish to survive, to have food to bring to their families. Not like fishing for entertainment or for a sport, like in other countries. There has been evidence of the drastic decline of the fish population in the Mekong. The Mekong Giant Catfish used to be found along the entire river from Vietnam to Southern China, but since then the population has decreased dramatically. An estimated 90% of the Giant Catfish have disappeared in the past two decades.
Illegal fishing has been taken huge consequences on fish stocks. Mosquito nets have been used illegally to capture fish as well as using poison to harvest fish and electro-shock fish with car batteries.
This process has increased sedimentation in the Mekong waters and will cause the river to dry up rapidly because there is not enough forest in the catchment basin to absorb water. In the early 1970s, 55% of the Greater Mekong region was forest. Now the percent has fallen to 34%. Population growth, policies and poor land-use has led to deforestation.
Changes in temperatures and rainfall from climate change have threatened agriculture is some areas of the Mekong basin. This threat has severely harmed fish stocks, which will eventually impact of food supplies for communities. Aiming to reduce the impact of climate change on the river, The Global Environmental Facility has funded $92 million for a four year project.
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The Murray-Darling river is the 16th longest river in the world at 3370km. The basins size is around one million km2, flowing through Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, covering one seventh of Australia's total mass. The Murray- Darling are two different rivers, joining in Wentworth, in south-western NSW.
The Murray river alone is 2530km in length and is Australia's longest river. The source of both The Murray and Murray- Darling's is the Australian Alps, in south-eastern Australia in Victoria and NSW. The Darling river is the third longest river in Australia, reaching 1472km, behind the Murray and Murrumbidgee river. The Darling's source is the Barwon river in NSW and Culgoa river in NSW and QLD. The Darling then flows south to it's meeting in the Murray. The Murray progresses through NSW and Victoria, making the border between the two, as it enters through to South Australia and later emptying out into the Southern ocean in Goolwa. The basin flows through several lakes including the Coorong and Lake Alexandria. Unfortunately more than 30% of the basins water is arid. Including it's tributaries, the Murray- Darling basin the largest and most iconic system in Australia
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Rio Grande/Rio Bravo
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The Murray Darling is a vital source of Adelaide's and Melbourne's water supply. Over two million in total (one tenth of Australia's population) live in the basin area. It contains 40% of all Australian farms, producing wool, cotton, wheat, sheep, cattle, dairy products, rice, oil, wine, fruit and vegetables for domestic and overseas markets.

The basin's water produces one third of Australia's food supply and agriculture production. Most of the water is used for irrigation. Three quarters of Australia's crops are grown in the basin. From 715- 750 litres of water is needed to produce one kilogram of wheat grains to 170 000 litres is needed for one kilogram of clean wool.
Since 2000, the Murray Darling has faced several problems and threats and has led to times when the water doesn't make it to the ocean. From water extraction to salinity, these threats have reduced the water levels dramatically. Some include:
In the past few years the basin has experienced the worst drought on record since 1891. These droughts have lowered water levels severely.
Farmers taking too much water illegally is very common and has led to times when the water doesn't make it to the ocean. The Australian government has lowered the amount of water that is allowed to be taken, but this law has been ignored.
More Threats
The newly introduced European Carp are the most abundant in the basin. They pose a huge threat by effecting businesses (agriculture, irrigation, domestic and tourism) relying on pure, clean water quality and marine habitats. Carps also cause heavy damage on marine plants and increase water turbidity, effecting other
marine species and habitats. They also carry diseases including the Asian Fish Tapeworm, which may pose a risk to the inhabitants of the Murray Darling.
While invasive species have increased, native fish species have undergone a severe decline, in the past century. There are 35 native fish species in the Murray Darling presently, nine of which are threatened and two are critically endangered. The two destructive species- the European Carp and Plague Minnow are now rich in the basin, causing damage.
The Australian government have announced of the further funding for the survival of the Murray river, but faces another challenge of converting money into water. The ongoing responsibility of the federal government to improve the rivers health, by ensuring that the water is used wisely and that waste is reduced. The Australian government have agreed to return water to start the improvement of Australia's greatest river system. $500 million was funded by them to begin returning 1% of the usual flow for the river every year.
'Save The Murray' organisation has funded $8.6 million for research as well as $2.5 million to increase awareness and water skulls.
The local government has contributed on spending $4.3 billion on Natural Resource Management every year. The federal government has funded $9 billion to help reduce water extractions.
The South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative (SEACI) have united with the Australian governments Department Of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency(CSIRO) and have researched on issues relating to climate change, raising funds for up to $7.5 million, beginning January 2006 and ended in 2009.
Erosion and Salinity
For over two centuries, land degradation or erosion has been increasing at a frightful rate in the basin. Some of the major issues in the rivers are wind and water erosion (this often occurs in drier areas). Unfortunately, this includes the loss of fine soil particles, caused by the constant disturbance of stock or farming on soil surface

The amount of salt in the Murray Darling is not increasing, although large amounts are being collected together in one area. By irrigation development and land clearing, salt mobilization is usually severe in some parts. Salt compression is caused by the basin's flat terrain, high evaporation and low rainfall. Excessive concentrations can be toxic for some marine life.
There are over 30000 wetlands in the Murray Darling river basin. Wetlands are the most productive ecosystems in the basin area. Wetlands are the rivers natural filters to help improve water quality. They absorb, recycle and release nutrients and also trap sediment.
Other strengths of the system is it's many tributaries and creeks. The Murrumbidgee river flows it's water into the river Murray, when it joins near to the town of Balranald.

Over the recent years, the Murray alone has been increasing in tourism. It has been predicted that the gain of more visitors will generate more money agricultural production.

The Rio Grande/Bravo is 3 033 km in length making it the fifth longest in the United States. The basin is 608 000 km2 and is one of the most important regions for freshwater biodiversity globally. Fed from the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, it flows south entering New Mexico, then flowing south-east throughout arid Texas and Mexico draining into the Gulf of Mexico at the sandy delta close to Cameron County, Tamaulipas and Matamoros. The Grande drains an area larger than the size of California. Along it's course the Rio Grande forms the border between Texas and Mexico. The Rio Bravo's major tributaries, the Rio Conchos reaching 560 km in length and others are the Pecos and the Devils, which join at Amistad Dam.
Ten million people are living along the basin. Living in such an arid climate, water level usage is high from the Rio Grande . Communities are in desperate need for supplies of water for irrigation and agriculture. From Colorado to the Gulf, the communities of Mexico and the US use the Grande as it's primary source for drinking water. This region is one of the poorest in the US, where many live in small shelters or cabins, without access to drinking water.
In Colorado and New Mexico the major crops that are grown are potatoes and alfalfa, in Texas and New Mexico there are cotton, peppers, onions and pecans. A promised 60 000 acre- feet is given to Mexican farmers annually, although this number is decreasing during times of low snow melt in Colorado.
Located throughout dry climates of the USA, the Rio Grande have had issues relating to droughts, over- extraction, water infrastructure and salinisation. Facing these threats the Grande often fails to reach the Gulf of Mexico. More than 30% of the water supply is arid.
Droughts have caused crops to deteriorate and dry out leading to mulnutrition for the many communities who have limited resources including Tarahumara Indians of Chihuahua.
The Salt Cedar, an invasive species in the Grande, have escalated in large numbers in the Big Bend area. It is said they they drink up large quantities of water. One type of Salt Cedar is believed to have abosorbed up to 241km of water, downstream. The Cedar may be the most infestation species on the planet.
Droughts, damming, high level of evaporation and invasive species have led to severe water extraction of the Rio Bravo. Used for agriculture and increasing domestic service, people aren't limiting their water usage, not even thinking of the consequences of low water levels. As a result, the concentration of the pollutants is so high that hundreds of fish have died and also caused salinisation to occur in the lower arts of the Rio Grande. With four major cities population growing at a rapid rate, more water is needed for irrigation and agriculture.
The US government have funded an estimated $413 000 on studies about water management issues along the Grande basin, including climate change, population growth and treaty requirements
The study will:
perform hydro logic projects and demand the change of climate
form alternative regional water management strategies for water needs
The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District has built new dams, canals and ditches for irrigation.

In response of water pollution, the US and the Mexican government have agreed to an extensive water quality investigation.
The US government should do more for this important river. More funding annually for research in issues along the river and how we can stop over extraction of it's water supply. Plans for example are:
a law limiting the amount of water that is allowed to be taken
plans to get rid of the Salt cedar, or move them away from the river
build sustainable hydro electric dams without harming the river and it's inhabitants.
The Murray- Darling River
The Rio Grande and Conchos supports 121 fish species including 69 that are found nowhere else on the planet. The marine fauna have derived to live under flooding and droughts through the year. The Rio Grande valley is home to many flora and fauna including the Jaguar and Grey Wolf.
The leading industries of the Rio Grande region are mining (petroleum, natural gas, coal, silver, lead and gold) and recreation including state and national parks, fishing and resorts. Tourism has also been popular in some areas.
Thankyou for watching. Hope you enjoyed it.

White Hat

More Threats
The Greater Mekong region spans six countries of beautiful landscapes from rainforests to icy torrents. The region is rich of diverse wildlife like elephants, stingrays and tigers. More than 1500 species have been introduced since 1997 in the Greater Mekong Region.
Yellow Hat
Erosion is the process of when rocks or dirt or sand wear away
Mobilisation is the act of gathering or pulling together
Excessive means exceeding the usual or the limit
Human impact on the river has devastatingly wasted valuable water. Water and air pollution have been one of these problems for the Nile. Pollutants in the river can be from heavy metals and even litter that has been carelessly thrown into the river. Around 700 facilities are along the Nile, carrying toxic water that contains metals and is wasted and drained into the river polluting the Nile severely, reducing the availability, that can be used for us.
Wrong irrigation methods and inefficient use of water, has led to salinisation. When the water from the Nile flows into canals, it is then put onto soil and gets extracted through , holding chemicals and fertilizers inside, then goes into the drainage station and then back into the river. This method was put to use as a good way of recycling water but had later consequences. All the chemicals that was soaked in the water spread throughout the Nile and made it poisonous for drinking and its inhabitants.
There are a variety of marine species in the Nile, but a huge native fish called the Nile Perch is taking over Lake Victoria in the Nile. The Nile perch can eat anything, commonly fish and crustaceans. Their maximum weight is up to 200kg and can reach up to 2m long(more than 6ft). This fish is a huge commercial source for sporting. They were released into Lake Victoria in the 1950s, where cichlids species(an endangered species) lived. The perch began eating the cichlids quickly and led them close to extinction. The perch are now forced to eat shrimp and minnows(also called the carp family) instead of the cichlids. To fix the infestation problems, fisheries have been set up all over Lake Victoria to catch them.

The Nile Delta
Chinese River Dolphin
Giant Panda
Snow Leopard
Turbidity is when sediment is stirred up, making it muddy in the water
Full transcript