Top 10 Rivers Drying Up Around The World
Rivers are a natural source of freshwater used for various purposes- mainly for agriculture, drinking water, and different industries. For centuries, it has been the main factor that helped develop civilizations, encourage travel between borders, and, in general, help the vicinity flourish with food, water, and even electricity through hydroelectric dams. However, over the years, with increased usage of rivers and human-induced weather crisis, some of these crucial rivers have slowly, but surely, started drying up.
River Water Drying Up – A Global Crisis?
It may be hard to believe, but the once mighty rivers around the world are now showing signs of depletion. From America to China, India to Australia- some of the world’s most abundant water-endowed rivers are slowly disappearing, their waters receding at an alarming rate. A few rivers now exist only in memory, having dried up completely without a trace. The impact of this dire situation has left a marked impact on surrounding ecosystems and has left us wondering- how much time do we have before a drought-like crisis hits us all and dries up every possibility of life on Earth? Are nations destined to wage water wars against their neighbours? Is it a bleak future for the generations that follow us?
Top 10 Rivers Drying Up Around The World
Below are the Top 10 Rivers Drying Up Around The World that’ll give a deeper look at the seriousness of the situation.
1. Mahanadi River
The beautiful Mahanadi was once the largest perennial river in Odisha, its waters sustaining the thriving biodiversity nearby. Its fertile soil was the foundation for flourishing agriculture. The Mahanadi River is also known for the famous Hirakud Dam built across it. This dam consists of several hydroelectric generators predicted to dry up the river water as it flows downstream. The Mahanadi basin has suffered severely because of low water levels due to erratic rainfall sparked by global climate change. Today, the river water drying up has become a vexing issue for farmers and surrounding districts and has triggered the need for stricter water policies and contingencies.
2. Rio Grande River
Considered one of the largest rivers in North America, the Rio Grande River defines the border of Texas and Mexico. Years ago, this once-thriving river would abundantly flow across the land. However, with the excessive use of water on either side of the border for varied purposes like leisure activities, agricultural cultivation, etc., only 1/5th of this historical river reaches the coast. Once touted as ‘Grand’, the Rio is now one of the fastest drying up rivers in the world, owing to continuous stress on the river. This situation has even affected migratory birds, who would stop over this river annually to quench their thirst.
3. Colorado River
Being the lifeline of seven states in the United States and running across eleven national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Arches, and others, the Colorado River is one of the most thoroughly used waterways. It provides water to more than 30 million people, flowing naturally all the way from the western part of the United States to the Gulf of California in Mexico. Unfortunately, the overuse of the river and the side effects of climate change led the river to be one of the fastest drying up rivers of the world today. In view of this situation, the government has asked Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico to make mandatory water cuts to help mitigate the ongoing 23-year drought.
4. Indus River
The Indus River is the primary freshwater source for the fast-growing 200 million population of Pakistan. With about 90 percent of water being used for agriculture and the rest for household and industrial use, this river water drying up fast is no surprise. The Indus River no longer flows into the ocean due to overuse, drought, and other impacts, endangering existing ecosystems that once supported crucial fisheries and lush surroundings. Today, the river is evidently en route to dripping into a lean end.
5. Yellow River/Huang He River
The Yellow River, also known as Huang He, is the second longest in China and is the sixth longest river in the world. Unfortunately, this mighty river is in danger as it has become one of the fastest-drying-up rivers in Asia today. The Yellow River has a complicated history. Known as the cradle of China’s earliest civilization, the area around this river has experienced numerous floods, one of which killed almost 1-4 million people. However, since 1972, the Yellow River has joined the list of drying up rivers around the world, with the water in the lower Yellow River not flowing for nearly 230 days. This crisis is due to the increased water consumption for agricultural activities, which eventually dries up the environmentally rich delta. Today, the government has set mandatory rules around farming and the usage of water in an attempt to replenish the perishing river.
6. River Po
Cutting right across the northern parts of Italy, River Po has a steep flow when fed by the winter snow in the Alps in conjunction with heavy rainfall in spring. Typically, this river has seen many floods. However, recent times reveal a different story. Winters saw lesser snow, while spring and summer seasons went on to become very dry. Climate change is one of the major reasons for rivers drying up across the world. River Po, too, plunged into the most severe drought it has experienced in the last seven decades. So much so that a World War II-era bomb was recently found in the depleted waters!
7. Danube River
While river water drying up around the world has become a norm in the last few decades, the Danube River is still not in a dire condition as other rivers in Europe. However, despite being Western Europe’s longest river and a critical shipping channel passing through 10 countries, the Danube River has also slowly been seeing the effects of dredging the river to ensure vessels can navigate through it. With water levels shrinking, many stations on this route have had to shut down to preserve what’s left of this once majestic river.
8. Teesta River
The Teesta River flows through the Indian state of Sikkim, ultimately joining the Brahmaputra River in Bangladesh. Predominantly tapped for irrigation purposes, the Teesta River is the lifeline of Sikkim. Owing to the excessive water use by nearby residents, the waters of such vital rivers are drying up at an alarmingly rapid rate, with its current status threatening the water supply to farmers. It could also potentially lead to the stoppage of the fishing sector. Geologists have also warned of the likelihood of calamities, like earthquakes, because of the large number of dams built across this river.
9. The Loire River
The Loire, in France, is famous for sustaining lush vineyards that produce the finest wine in the world. Stretching over 600 miles, the Loire River is known to be the last wild river supporting diverse ecosystems throughout the valley. This magnificent river is under the protection of the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organisation. Recent satellite images of the Loire River show more riverbed than water owing to extreme heat and lack of rain. What were lush green lands around the valley just a few years ago are now dry brown patches of land.
10. Rhine River
A crucial channel for European shipping, the Rhine River starts in the Swiss Alps, flows into Germany through Netherlands, and out to the North Sea. Rhine River water drying up costs shipping companies the most. Water levels have fallen as low as 32cms, and a container ship usually needs nothing less than 75cm to pass by. Low water levels mean companies must pay higher levies to travel across the river.
The Essence Of Life – The Importance Of Rivers
Rivers are ribbon-like water bodies with headwater from rainfall or snow melting from mountains. Rivers also can rise from groundwater or even form at the edge of a lake. In its natural form, rivers carry out a range of essential tasks. Apart from the evident one being a main source of water, flowing rivers are known to:
- Distribute essential salts, gases, and nutrients that support plant and animal life
- Create fertile zones for agricultural purposes
- Provide habitat for diverse species of wildlife
- Act as drainage channels for surface water
- Encourage a range of industries like fishing, trade, hydroelectric dams for electricity, etc.
- Provide a solid foundation for rare plants and trees that grow by the river banks
- Encourage leisure activities like swimming, boating, etc. that boost tourism and economy
These are just a few to highlight how important rivers are in the world. However, with the drying up of major rivers, the future remains bleak for humans who need water to survive and thrive. Let’s face it, what causes rivers to dry up is a culmination of many factors that cannot be dealt with by just water conservation. Research by limnologists and environmental specialists across the globe suggests that it takes a mix of mandate actions to preserve water sources. Some of them include active water-use reductions, encouraging recycled water, capturing rainwater, reducing pollution and carbon footprints and many more that can be done by each of us.
Our planet is our only home. With major rivers drying up worldwide, it’s a red flag alerting humanity to take responsibility for preserving every bit of it, including wonders like the Top 10 Beautiful Hill Stations in Asia and the World.