October 9 – A River Runs Through It

Today’s factismal: There are 3,600,000 miles of river in the USA.

If you look at the United States from space, one of the first things you’ll notice (apart from the purple mountains’ majesty and fruited plains) is the number of rivers that sprawl across its face. All told, there are more than 250,000 rivers in the USA and they stretch a total of 3,600,000 miles; that’s long enough to circle the Earth 144 times or to reach from here to the Moon fifteen times! (“Moon river…”) Ranging in length from the mighty Missouri (2,540 miles) to the tiny Roe River (201 ft), these riparian passages push 48,000,000 gallons of water and sediment into the ocean every second. If you were to catch the water with Olympic swimming pools, you’d fill up 72 of them every second!

There are mmm miles of river in the USA (Image courtesy AAA)

There are 3,600,000 miles of river in the USA
(Image courtesy National Atlas)

Those 250,000 rivers supply water for farming and industry (and drinking). They also serve as efficient transportation for bulk goods like coal, grain, and iron ore; a single 15-barge tow can carry as much cargo as 870 tractor trailer trucks or 225 railroad cars. Yet, even though these rivers are essential to supporting both our life and our economy, nearly half of them are too polluted to fish from!

And that’s why the good citizens of Sherman’s Creek have banded together to monitor their river. These citizen scientists track the amount of oxygen, nitrates, and pollutants in Sherman’s Creek and use the data to help keep their river in swimming hole condition. If you’d like to join them (or just see what a great citizen science project looks like), float on over to:

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