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America's Most Endangered Rivers Of 2016: ACF River Basin, San Joaquin, Susquehanna Top List

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An environmental group has identified 10 of the most endangered rivers in the United States as of 2016, most of which are threatened not by pollution.

American Rivers, an organization that spearheads America's Most Endangered Rivers campaign, has released a list of rivers whose threats may lead to significant depletion of clean water source, poor agricultural yield, and ecological imbalance, among others.

Three of the rivers, namely Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and Maryland (No. 3), Green-Duwamish River in Washington (No. 5), and Merrimack River in New Hampshire and Massachusetts (No. 8) are damaged by pollution, which may have begun as early as 10 years ago.

However, many rivers are endangered not because of pollution-related concerns. The problem with Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin (No. 1), which serves Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, is its decades-long water dispute where the three states cannot agree completely on the allocation of the water resource.

The water war may cause "lasting economic and irreversible environmental damage," explained American Rivers, unless the conflicting states agree and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers create a more practical method of managing the waters.

Further, "instead of continuing conflict, we need a new era of water cooperation that strikes a balance among all users," said Bob Irvin, the group's president.

As the biggest river in Central California, San Joaquin River (No. 2) suffers from poor water management as overtapping continues, causing severely decreased populations of salmons and steelheads and sinking of some lands.

The Smith River in Montana (No. 4) and Russell Fork River in Virginia and Kentucky (No. 7) are considered two of the most beautiful natural destinations in their respective states, but possible mining operations near the rivers may endanger wildlife and perhaps human communities where their tributaries run.

Mining has always been associated with the increased risk of discharging harmful chemicals and metals into the bodies of water such as rivers. The leak of more than 200 Colorado mines, for example, contaminated 1,645 miles (2,647 kilometers) of streams and rivers with cadmium, copper, arsenic, and lead.

Two rivers, Pee Dee (No. 6) and St. Lawrence River (No. 9), are threatened by harmful dam operations while Pascagoula River in Mississippi and Alabama (No. 10) is challenged by the possible construction of dams in their tributaries. 

Photo: Lori L. Stalteri | Flickr

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