U.S. Water News Online
WASHINGTON -- Rocket fuel, human waste and uranium tailings
make the Colorado River the nation's most threatened river, the
conservation group American Rivers said.
The river wanders 1,500 miles from the peaks of the Rocky
Mountains in Colorado, snaking across Utah, Arizona, Nevada and
California before flowing into the Gulf of Baja in Mexico, although
in most years it is little more than a trickle when it reaches its
delta. It provides drinking water for 25 million Americans.
The Big Sunflower River in Mississippi, which was the most
endangered river last year because of an Army Corps of Engineers
pumping and dredging project that the group said would destroy
wetlands and stir up toxins in the river bed, was No. 2 on the
American Rivers president Rebecca Wodder said the Bush
administration and Congress are partly to blame for cutting funds to
help communities clean up waterways.
``The president's clean water record can be summed up in three
words: soft on crime,'' Wodder said in a statement. ``The rivers on
this year's list face particularly dire futures, but they are not
unique. They are poster children for a nationwide trend towards more
polluted waters and less effort to clean them up.''
The Bureau of Reclamation, which is responsible for Western water
management, declined to comment.
The American Rivers report said nitrates from human waste from
Colorado River towns in California and Arizona below the Hoover Dam
have been measured in the water at levels four times higher than
Environmental Protection Agency limits.
Perchlorate, an ingredient from rocket fuel, is measured near a
Cold Ware missile production plant in Henderson, Nev., now run by
Kerr-McGee Corporation. It can interfere with thyroid function and
Farther upstream, nearly 12 million tons of radioactive uranium
tailings sit on the banks of the river, with contaminants seeping
into the groundwater and threatening endangered fish.
The report also said dams along the Snake River in Wyoming, Idaho
and Washington could harm salmon in the river, and said inadequately
treated sewage is polluting the Tennessee River in Tennessee,
Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky.
List of Endangered Rivers
American Rivers, a Washington-based nonprofit conservation group,
says the rivers on the list are not necessarily the ones with the
worst chronic problems, but those they say are most in peril because
of toxic chemicals, severe water shortages and other problems.
1) Colorado River. Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California.
2) Big Sunflower River. Mississippi.
3) Snake River. Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
4) Tennessee River. Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky.
5) Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. West Virginia, Pennsylvania
and New York.
6) Spokane River. Idaho and Wyoming.
7) Housatonic River. Massachusetts and Connecticut.
8) Peace River. Florida.
9) Big Darby Creek. Ohio.
10) Mississippi River. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois,
Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
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