October 2010 Mission – The Rivers


Rivers are the arteries of our planet

The steady flow of clean, fresh water is an essential element for vast ecosystems and the health and survival of billions of people.

A river may have its source in a spring, lake, from damp, boggy places where the soil is waterlogged, from glacial meltwater, or simply from rain flowing off impermeable rock or man-made surfaces. Almost all rivers are joined by other rivers and streams, termed “tributaries’, the highest of which are known as headwaters. Water may also be recruited to a river from ground-water sources.

Floodplains and deltas
A river’s water is generally confined to a channel, made up of a stream bed between banks, but in larger rivers there is also a wider floodplain shaped by flood-waters over-topping the channel.
Flood plains may be very wide in relation to the size of the river channel. This distinction between river channel and floodplain can be blurred especially in urban areas where the floodplain of a river channel can become greatly developed by housing and industry. Rivers that carry large amounts of sediment may develop large deltas at their mouths, if conditions permit.

The flora and fauna of rivers have developed to utilise the very wide range of aquatic habitats available from torrential waterfalls through to lowland mires

Although many organisms are restricted to the freshwater in rivers, some, such as Salmon and Hilsa have adapted to be able to survive both in rivers and in the sea.

Rivers have played an important and life-sustaining role in human societies for thousands of years, which is why many of the world’s great cities sit on the bank of a great river.


We love our rivers and we abuse them. We have used them as a source of water, for food, for transport, for recreation, as defenses, as a source of power to drive machinery, and as a means of disposing of waste.

Threats to rivers are on the rise…

The main threats to river basins (the entire area drained by a river) continue to mount.

Construction of large dams and physical alterations of river flow, by straightening and deepening of river courses.

This disrupts the natural flooding cycles, reduces flows, drains wetlands, cuts rivers off from their floodplains, and inundates riparian habitats, resulting in the destruction of species, the intensification of floods and a threat to livelihoods in the long term.

Deforestation and loss of natural habitats including wetlands – source of abundant goods and services for society – for urban, industrial or agricultural use. This reduces natural flood control and destroys the habitats used by fish, waterbirds and many other species for breeding, feeding and migrating.

Excessive water abstraction for agricultural irrigation, domestic consumption and urban/industrial use.

This may involve pumping too much water from underground supplies, or long distance transfers of water from one basin to a neighbouring river basin. In both cases, the result has often been the same story of dried-up river beds and wetlands irreparable damage to wildlife, and failure to deliver overall economic benefits. Sadly, the ecological and economic value of freshwater systems damaged or destroyed by such ‘technical fixes’ are seldom taken properly into account.

Pollution, caused by runoff from agricultural chemicals, poorly-managed and sometimes out-of-date industrial processes, and lack of adequate treatment for sewage and other urban waste. The results may include water that is unfit to drink, massive fish kills, and complete loss of underwater plants. Yet many effects of pollution are more insidious, only becoming clear after toxic substances have been building up in the food chain for many years.

Long-term changes in rainfall, river flow and underground water supplies due to climate change.

There are things we can do to help our rivers… re-cycling, using less energy, buying organically produced food.

Aside from that, I’m adding links to three petitions , and a link to a site where you can get more involved in an active way, with river preservation.

Our rivers are vital to the ecology of this planet…..please sign the petitions, and do whatever else you can to protect them.












“I will open rivers  in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.”…..Bible




About this entry