Rivers are the lifeblood of our entire nation; whole cities are established close to the riverbanks and in fact, some of the earliest city states which were built around 10,000 BC were first established along the course of the river itself. There’s one thing that cannot be gainsaid and that’s the fact that water is essential to all life on earth. As Human beings, we are required to consume around 8 liters of water each day in order to function seamlessly. There are many reasons as to why we humans first chose to set up our cities along the riverbanks but the fact is that rivers and by extension water, is crucial to all life on this blue planet of ours. It is time that we took a closer look at some of the positive and negative impact rivers
Positive impact of rivers
- Life sustaining: Apart from the fact that rivers provide us with a ready source of potable drinking water, there’s the additional fact that we can use the river as a means for obtaining food. Most rivers teem with organisms and several species of fish and since we can trawl the various waterways looking for food, there’s every reason that we may want to consider staying close by the river.
- Transportation: Most rivers are fast flowing and offer a cheap means of transportation and can even help cut the long journey short. With the help of barges, we can move vehicles and drivers from one bank to the other which in the process should help cut down the long trip by several hours. Moreover, we can repurpose the water from the various rivers for industrial purposes as well.
- Agriculture: Most of the world’s economies are based on agriculture; our various food and cash crops requires a regular supply of water and having the river nearby can prove to be quite handy. We can carve channels in the ground, redirect the river waters to flood our field and then close the channel later. This should ensure that our fields are well stocked with an abundant growth of crops
Negative impact of rivers
- Pollution: Since many of the local industries have started operating in and around the various river banks, the rivers have become polluted to the point that it has even impacted the local eco-system. If this pollution continues unchecked, it will cause most of the local fauna and flora to become extinct. And using the same as drinking water will only impact our health severely; immediate action should be taken to clean up all the life giving rivers before it is too late. It should also be pointed out that once a water body becomes excessively polluted, it kills off all organisms living on it and it may even turn toxic to the point that we could not use the same for anything else. This is why it is essential that we take action before it is too late.
- Floods: Rivers are bound to flood seasonally, depending on the rains; once rivers flood, it can be devastating, it can wash away crops, kill cattle and even people and it can move with alarming speed. This is why someone needs to gauge the level of the river during the rainy season and sound alert in case of danger.
- Diseases: Water is one of the mediums through which some diseases can be spread and the fact that the river is a communal place only serves to increase this risk further. If you have an open wound in the arm or leg, you would be well advised to stay away from river water since various pathogens could use the gash to infect the rest of your body. You need to make sure that you treat your body with care, take all the required precautions when entering into the river.
- Droughts: This is typically not caused by a river but if we do not take actions to conserve the water by installing various dams, then chances are that the river may well run dry in the near future. When that happens, the consequences of such a drought on all life around would indeed be devastating.
These are some of the positive and negative impacts of rivers.