The Rio Grande is home to an abundance of wildlife and it’s the life blood of both the American and Mexican economy. According to the World Wildlife Fund, however, the river has once again received the unflattering distinction of being one of the top ten most at risk rivers in the world. Why is the Rio Grande in such grave danger?The Rio Grande, along with the Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Ganges and Indus, Danube, La Plata, Nile-Lake Victoria and Australia's Murray-Darling, can be found among the list of the world's most at risk rivers. According to WWF, the source of the danger is agricultural. Almost 80 percent of its water is diverted for irrigation.
The World's At Risk Rivers
It's no secret that we face real issues when it comes to dealing with overuse of our rivers. Bonnie recently wrote about water scarcity in the Rio Grande, as well as in the Ganges and the Danube. The Rio Grande is practically dry. In India, tributaries of the Ganges are beginning to dry up as water is diverted for irrigation. One in twelve people in the area depend on its water for fishing and farming. The Danube has already lost 80 percent of its wetlands and flood plains due to dam construction.
"The world's freshwater ecosystems are under siege, and the rivers in this report are the front lines," says Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund. "We don't have to look far to find examples of the freshwater crisis. The Rio Grande basin is in our own backyard and over-extraction and drought are draining it dry, endangering a unique desert river ecosystem and potentially undermining the economic growth of communities along the U.S./Mexico border."
Those that depend upon the Rio Grande may have to turn to desalination instead. This energy intensive and pricey practice may be the only alternative if the river continues to dry up. Some fear that the Rio Grande will no longer be able to support the numerous people along the U.S.-Mexico border who depend on it.
More on Greening Our Rivers:
Green Our Rivers, 3 Ways to Start
Clean a Local River, Check Out Environmental Art, Learn About Dying Oceans, and Hug Trees Digitally
On World Rivers Day, Take Time To Appreciate What Rivers Give Us