Study: Drying up rivers to cause freshwater crisis

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Several factors including climate change and pollution may put at risk of drying up some of the largest rivers on the globe, a report by the environmental group WWF says. Following a study of ten rivers currently at risk of drying up, the group warns that without any action the process of drying up might lead to freshwater emergency.

The Three Gorges dam across the Yangtze is the largest hydroelectric river dam in the world

The report analyzes ten rivers, including the Yangtze, the Ganges and the Salween in Asia; the Danube in Europe and Rio Grande in North America.

The study raises concerns overs dams and dikes, which the report says destroy 80 percent of river basin's wetlands and floodplains.

Another problem is the extraction of water for agriculture. The environment group states that active extraction of water, such as in the Indus river, takes its toll on our planet's rivers. Over-extraction might lead to its scarcity and have a serious negative impact on freshwater fish populations, which represents an important food source.

The report says governments should ensure better protection of rivers and provide more sustainable water use, in such a way that people's livelihoods are protected.

According to Dr David Tickner, head of WWF UK's Freshwater programme, the freshwater crisis is a serious problems that could worsen as climate changes. He said that preserving rivers and providing security of water flows should be seen as part of national security, health and economic success.