January 15 – Running On Empty

Today’s factismal: The Colorado River powers some $1,400,000,000,000 in economic activity.

There is no denying the power of a river. Rivers can sweep away towns and topsoil, carve mountains, and generate electricity. They water our fields and move our goods. And yet, rivers are running into problems. And no river is in more trouble right now than the Colorado. Born in the mountains of Wyoming and Colorado, the Colorado River drains seven different states and carries more than four and a half cubic miles of water along its 1,450 mile length. Along the way, the mighty Colorado River provides water to people living in Los Angeles and to farmers feeding the nation from their fields in the Imperial Valley. It makes dusty Las Vegas bloom and cools Flagstaff. All told, the Colorado River is responsible for some $1,400,000,000,000 in economic activity.

The Colorado River Basin includes seven states (Image courtesy Bureau of Reclamation)

The Colorado River Basin includes seven states (Image courtesy Bureau of Reclamation)

And the Colorado River is hardly the only river in the USA. All told, All told, there are more than 250,000 rivers in the USA and they stretch a total of 3,600,000 miles. They range from the 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 flowing from America’s rivers with Olympic swimming pools, you’d fill up 72 of them every second. 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!

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

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

Today, scientists, politicians, and ordinary citizens are working to develop plans to help save America’s rivers. If you’d like help, then consider joining a Riverwatch program (or starting your own!):
http://www.coloradowater.org/River%20Watch
http://cwriverkeepers.wikispaces.com/Home+Page
http://www.georgiaadoptastream.org/

One thought on “January 15 – Running On Empty

  1. Pingback: February 26 – A River Divided Cannot Stand | Little facts about science

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