Most of the world's rivers threatened by pesticides, pollution

The vast majority of the world's rivers are threatened by pollution, pesticide runoff and destructive species, say researchers from The City College (CCNY) of The City University of New York (CUNY), the University of Wisconsin and seven other institutions. And not only is the integrity of the world's water at heightened risk, but so are countless aquatic species that rely on the threatened habitats for survival.

Published in the journal Nature, the study explains that the threats come from a multitude of different sources, and that an independent, reactive approach to dealing with them is not going to work. A more holistic approach is required, say scientists, if the problems have any chance of ever being remediated.

"We can no longer look at human water security and biodiversity threats independently," said Dr. Charles Vorosmarty, director of the CUNY Environmental CrossRoads Initiative and professor of civil engineering at The Grove School of Engineering at CCNY. "We need to link the two."

One example cited is the fact that while water reservoirs are largely beneficial to humans because they supply clean water, they simultaneously alter the biodiversity of aquatic life by changing water migration patterns. So evaluating these issues and coming up with long-term solutions to benefit both humans and the environment are necessary, they say.

According to the team, nearly all European water resources are highly threatened by environmental factors, as are most in the U.S. Central Asia, the Middle East, subcontinent India and eastern China are also increasingly threatened as they continue to develop.

Both industrialized and developing countries are experiencing the same threats, but the two handle them differently. Industrialized nations tend to treat the symptoms of the problem after the fact -- which is very costly -- while developing nations, if they do anything at all, tend towards protecting the resources in the first place. (10.02.2010, Jonathan Benson, staff writer)

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