I am going to talk about a problem with rivers that hits closer to home. A river in California called the San Joaquin River was recently named the most endangered river in America. It runs from Sierra Nevada across the Central Valley toward the San Francisco Bay. This river is one of the main water supplies for farming in California. This makes it very vulnerable to overuse.
The river has been rapidly drying up in the last few years. This year with the drought that California has had, really puts the San Joaquin River at risk. The main reason the river has been drying up so quickly is due to excessive diversions. The river’s water is so crucial to everyday life and farming in California that everyone wants piece of it. Wanting the water to be closer to them, companies have tried to expand how far the river spread, by increasing the paths it takes. This seem like a good idea, but in reality it just causes the river to dry up faster because it becomes so much more shallow, when people try to spread it out.
Another reason the river has been drying up is due to all the dams and levees that have been installed in the river. While some companies have been trying to get water to come to them, others down stream have been slowly watching the river dry up, because it can no longer reach to their area. More than 100 miles of the river have dried up because of selfish companies and wasteful people taking more than they should.
Everyone wants the water for different reasons, irrigation, fishing, and drinking. Due to the lack of water as late the hot debate of where the water should go has increased. There have been pushes in legislation that want to try to improve the river and hopefully get it back to how it once was. One main idea that was passed around was to change the crops that the farmers plant. If they change to lettuce, which can survive better in wet and dry climate, than the currently grown trees that constantly need water no matter what the climate is, then the farmers do not need to use as much water. This will increase the amount of water that can be distributed to other needs.
A big concern with the water in the San Joaquin River, is not only the amount of water but also the quality of the water. Many people use this water to bathe in, drink, and wash their food with. Although the do not do it directly in the river, like in most cases I have talked about so far with river damage, there is still a major concern with health issues. As the water amount has been decreasing the quality and filtration has decreased as well. Without proper movement through the river the water become still allowing for bacteria and other infections to grow in it without much attack against them. If the amount of water in the river does not increase I guess is that the quality of the water will get even worse, probably to the point where it is unsafe to drink or wash your clothes with.
The problem with the San Joaquin River is a primary example of supply and demand. As the supply diminishes that demand for it increase because it is a necessity of life. I think it is important though that the citizens that use the water realize how their actions can effect future generations drastically. Without freshwater, economies will crash, people will be forced to move, and the area around the river will become a desolate place.
Although there are pushes in the government to help this river out it seems like time is running low, just like the river, ironic I know. If there is any chance for this river to be saved action needs to be taken and quickly.
I also think it is important for the United States to realize, that even though our situations with water are not as bad as some countries we still have problems that we need to focus on. If we don’t we may end up like those other countries.