Category Archives: Civic Issues

Civic Issues- San Joaquin River

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.

Civic Issues- Miracle River? Or not…

A man claims that there is a river with healing powers in Nigeria. He says that the river was created behind him, after traveling far and wide on dry grounds. He believes that it was a sign of hope and healing. He told his relatives who then told others. Pretty soon thousands of people flocked to the so called “magical” water. They would bathe AND drink this water, hoping that its healing powers would cure their diseases. Multiple claims like this on have been made, all with similar results. This claim has to do with a river near a town called Nachi. Even though not one person since this man has experienced these healing powers, people still flock to this river in search for a cure.

The sudden increase in human population makes the water unsanitary, and does the exact opposite of what the people want it to do that come to the river. Disease is spread through the river and people become more sick. Many of the people who come to these rivers are poor and can’t afford medical attention. They hope that they found a free and easy way to get ride of their problems, but in reality they are just making their problems worse.

I understand how hope can effect people and when people are given just a little bit of hope that they will do anything they can to hold into it. I also think that it is unrealistic for them to believe that water will heal them, especially when they can see how polluted the water is. Scientist even showed people how bad the water was for them, and that it will only get worse. I think hope is a very important thing, but blindly following it is not the way to go. The drastic increase in infections and diseases caused by these so called “magical” rivers is a perfect example of this.

The people living in Nachi, the town near the river, are greatly effected by this flow of people as well. Yes the new increase in travels may help their town for a small period of time, but in the long run they will have many more problems on their hands once everyone leaves. They will have no freshwater to drink from, because the river will be so polluted, they won’t be able to farm because the soil is so infected, and there will be a great lack of animals in the area because they will all have either migrated away or died.

Now lets talk about how these claims effect the rivers themselves. The inflation of people visiting these rivers will cause the animals and organisms that live there to suffer as well. The lack of fresh water and a healthy ecosystem created turmoil in the animals lives and will most likely cause the species to die out. These effects can be awful for the environment surrounding the “magical” rivers. The land in the area will be infected with the polluted water and will not be able to grow plants properly. People need to realize that their “hope” is more harmful than they realize. Then need to realize the effects that they have, not only themselves and each other but also on the environment. A peaceful river with a healthy ecosystem around it can be destroyed within weeks from claims like these. If I were a river I would not want to be “chosen” as magical, because pretty soon there won’t be anything magical happening around me. The only thing that would be happening is disease and death.

The people making these claims also need to realize the damage they are creating. People can die is greater numbers because of this claim and they can destroy an entire area. Even though these people probably don’t realize the effects of what they say are I think it is important that they are informed. We need to do something to prevent claims like these from happening, they only cause disease and false hope.


Civic Issues – Lake Karachay

At one point Lake Karachay was considered one of the most polluted areas on Earth. In 1990 standing on the lake’s shores for just an hour would kill you, from exposure to such extreme radiation. Now this lake was not naturally full of radiation, we have the Mayak Production Association to thank. Mayak was a huge nuclear facility in Russia. For years this association was kept from the public’s knowledge, and for good reasons too (well not such good reasons, but reasons that were good for the company). This facility had multiple radioactive leaks and constantly dumped its waste into Lake Karachay. These mistakes effects thousands of people and the environment around them.

The drastic increase in radioactive levels caused, “a 21 percent increase in cancer incidence, a 25 percent increase in birth defects, and a 41 percent increase in leukemia in the surrounding region of Chelyabinsk” ( The towns and villages surrounding the area of the lake were almost destroyed because of the radiation. The Techa river, which got its water from Lake Karachay, was the source of water to many towns in the area. People were becoming severely ill, and when they ask the doctors they could not give them a true diagnosis, because the Mayak, which was the source of radiation was not public knowledge.

Like I mentioned before the company had multiple leaks and accidents. One accident caused the lake to dry up, and radioactive dust entered the air to spread the poison even further than it already had. Many people were finally evacuated after this but still too many were left to die from inhaling the radioactive air.

Finally in 2003 Mayak was shut down due to dumping radioactive waster into open water. The lake is now full of cement to prevent anymore damage to the surrounding environment. Techa river near the lake is still unsafe to consume, but there are improvements in the water more downstream in the river.

The things companies do and governments allow baffles me every day. The thing that surprised me the most was that the citizens in the nearby towns were completely unaware that they had a toxic dumping site in their backyard. Radiation causes damages to populations that last many generations. I read a book once where this same thing happened, and because the townspeople were exposed to so much radiation without knowing it, the women in the town became unable to carry children, it was a miracle if any child was born in that town. This disaster caused the town to collapse and die out.

I’m afraid that the same thing is happening to the towns near Lake Karachay, even generations later there are still mutations and rare diseases occurring in the town that cause great suffering. Those people had the right to know what was happening so close to them, because my guess would be that most of them would not have stayed. Yes that would have caused the towns to collapse, but they weren’t even on the map anyway at that time because the secret of the company would have been exposed if they had been. It would have been better if the people were given a chance to leave the dangers conditions, instead of unknowingly be poisoned all their lives.

Or even better yet, radioactive facilities should not be near enough to a population to have an effect on them. It was foolish for Mayak to locate itself in such close proximity to so many towns, and it was even more foolish of them to dump their wastes into the lakes and rivers causing even more damage. The fact the Russia had to completely destroy a lake, and entire ecosystem, to prevent further damage is disheartening. So many animals and plants lived in that area and now have no means of fresh, uncontaminated water. Where there use to be lush forest and thriving organism, there is now a cement filler whole with little life around it.

Civic Issue – Three Gorges Dam

The Three Gorges Dam is located on the Yangtze River in East China. This is one of China’s most well-known dams and not for good reasons. The Three Gorges dam “is the world’s largest hydropower project…” ( Although it is a very successful hydropower project there has been many consequences to the environment around the river. It has negatively effected the land, economy, and people in the area.

The accumulation of factories and industries around the dam has made the Yangtze River a dump site. There has been a drastic increase in residue and pollutants in the river. These toxic wastes building up in the reservoir and spots downstream on the river are causing land slides making the area dangerous and the soil unusable for planting.

This leads me into the economy issues around the dam. The pollutants in the river are seeping into the soil surrounding the river which is drastically decreasing the amount of farming happening in the area. The fishing economy is almost nonexistent in the area because the fish in the rivers have either died off or are so mutated from the toxins that they are unsafe to eat.

The decline in the success of the farming and fishing economy has caused many families to leave the area. Without these two main economic industries many people had no way of making an income and were forced to find work else where. The Three Gorges Dam forced more than 1.2 million to relocate to different areas. The economic decline is not the only reason so many people moved. The harsh conditions and unpredictable water levels has made many areas near the dam unlivable. It has become a dangerous place to live with all of the toxins and different water levels. There are some towns that are flooded due to the dam where others are in a major drought. Neither of these conditions is good for living.

China’s government finally recognized this dam as a cause of “urgent problems” around the area. Although the industries that are based around the dam are thriving almost ever other industry in the area are suffering. Even though China’s government can see the problems they still plan to create more of these dams throughout the country. They believe that with the Three Gorges Dam as a model for them to prevent future problems that the industry will be able to prevent disasters. They plan on building these dams in some of the most biologically diverse and economically important rivers. For example, plans for building hydropower projects on the Lancang River and the Nu River have already been proposed.

Even though China’s government believes that they can prevent problems by looking at the The Gorges River Dam as an example of what not to do, I don’t think they will be able to prevent all of the disasters that will come from the building of these dams. I think that more planning and careful consideration needs to be put into place before the dams are built. After seeing the effects from the Three Gorges River Dam I would think that the majority of the people would be against creating more. With the building of more dams other industries in the same area of these dams are more likely to suffer and more people will be forced to move. The problems from the Three Gorges River Dam is not a unique case. Other hydropower projects create problems in their area similar to the ones caused by the Three Gorges River Dams. I don’t think China’s government will be able to create a dam that doesn’t cause disasters and destroy the peoples’ lives around it.

China and other countries should look at alternative options that may no be as harmful to the surroundings. Although other options may be more expensive, I feel as though saving other types of industries will balance out the cost of a more expensive energy source. Other sources of energy that can be taken into consideration is wind energy and/or solar energy. Focusing on these sources of energy will move the harsh industries away from the rivers and allow the farming, fishing, and other economic industries to rebuild and thrive again.

Civic Issue – Environment

My civic issue blog posts will focus on environmental issues. This will be a place where environmental issues around the world will be discussed. My first topic will focus on river pollution throughout the world. What is considered the most polluted river in the world? Why is the river so polluted? How can we help make these rivers less polluted.

According to Ganga River in India is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. They people that live near this river use it as a waste dump, bathing water, baptism, burial ceremonies, fishing, laundry water, the children use it as a swimming area and the people sometimes even use it as drinking water. Drinking the river’s polluted water usually causes severe illness, which sometimes leads to death. Even using the river as a bathing spot causes rashes and sores on the skin. This water is obviously extremely toxic, so why do some many people gather around it?

In history people congregated around the river because it was a source of fresh water, before it became pollutes. Towns were built near it so as to have easy access to the water. This is why in the present so many people have houses and companies near the river. But why do the people stay in present day when the water is no longer helpful to their society. One main reason that I found is that they don’t really have a choice. The Ganga River is the only big body of water near them, even if it is polluted, it is better than having no water at all. Another reason I can think of is that most people living in the towns near the river don’t have enough money or the resources to uproot their family and relocate. A lot of the towns near the river are struggling because of the lack of water quality, their fishing income has gone down, because fish are dying of diseases causes by the pollution, like I mentioned before people are dying because of diseases causes by the water, and the crops that they try to grow near the river don’t grow because of lack of nutrients in the soil.

Even with all the negative effects of the polluted water the people living in the areas don’t seem to be doing anything about it. The problem actually seems to be getting worse. It is believed that the river will cease to exist in 10 years because all of the sediment and other waste in it will cause the water to evaporate. If something isn’t done soon the citizens near the river will have no choice but to try to find a new home. It obvious that something needs to change, but how will that change happen when the towns around the river are too poor to pay for the resources to help clean the river up?

I think one place to start would be trying to stop the problem from getting worse. The people need to put in an effort to be consciously aware of what they are putting into the river and how that will effect their future. If the people stop using the river as a dump site, for trash and dead bodies, hopefully the conditions will stop getting worse, maybe even improve.

People that do have money and resources to help clean up the river should try to lend a helping hand, maybe donate money to the cause. Even volunteers could donate some of their time to teach the citizens of the towns healthier ways of living and how to improve their life style. Although the towns are the main reason that the river is so polluted, people who are aware of this problem and know of a way to help should do so.

Our environment’s condition should be everyone’s concern even if it doesn’t effect you specifically. There are many things we can do to help improve environmental conditions. Even if these things are just little, like recycling when you can or using environmentally safer products/chemicals. Take a look at whats around you and appreciate it, make sure our conditions don’t become like the people’s in India whose water causes them diseases and death.