Rivers most at risk

A report released by the WWF provides information on the top ten rivers that are in a disastrous state from the effects of climate change, pollution and dams.

I’m sad to say our own major river in Australia, the Murray, is listed. Back in January, I wrote about a plan to drain some of the Murray river wetlands with the building of a weir – all because we haven’t managed our water resources properly. These wetlands will die so we can continue to consume at a ridiculous level.

The Murray-Darling river system is thousands of kilometers long, draining roughly 14% of Australia’s land mass. We in this state are basically at the end of the river system. Not only is it a major river, it’s one of the *only* sizeable rivers in South Australia – we live in the driest state in the driest inhabited continent on this planet.

To give you some indication of how dry it’s been here, we had half an inch of rain here in the last 24 hours – and that was a headline story on the nightly news. Native plants and animals are suffering, even the brickwork on some houses has started to crack.

Added to the water woes, the Murray is also under attack from invasive species. Native fish populations are around 10% of number prior to the arrival of Europeans in this country. Of the native species, nine are classified as threatened and two are critically endangered. European carp are the main offenders with densities as high as one carp per square meter.

When I was growing up (in another state), the local lake was infested with carp; so much so that it was illegal to throw a carp back and massive fishing contests were run each year to try and rid the lake of carp. All sorts of other measures were tried in an attempt to rid the lake of this species. My father told me a while ago that they sorted out the carp problem there – now *nothing* can live in the lake. The carp (and other pollutants) have made it uninhabitable. Problem solved.. ugh.

Our government is finally taking some serious action now – but the question remains, is it too late? I certainly hope not; but many wetland species will be displaced as part of the new “management” of the Murray. Some wetlands will simply disappear, killing many of their plant and animal inhabitants.

The other rivers on the WWF’s top 10 rivers at risk list:

– Yangtze
– Mekong
– Salween
– Ganges
– Indus
– Danube
– La Plata
– Rio Grande/Rio Bravo
– Nile-Lake Victoria

You can download the full report here (PDF 1.75 meg) which goes into great detail of the various threats faced by each river system.

Isn’t it ironic that there is no less water on this planet today then there was 100 years ago – just increasing amounts of it are unable to sustain life. Even the salt water of our oceans is becoming toxic in many areas.

Don’t rely on governments to take action. For instance, in this state, we really should be on the highest level water restrictions possible at the moment; and we’re nowhere near it. Take the first steps yourself in conserving water; go past what the law dictates –  pick up some simple water saving tips.