The beginning of a river is known as its source. A river runs through a channel until it usually intersects with another river or watersource, which is known as confluence, when describing the joining of a smaller river or stream with a more major river ; the term « mouth » also denotes the meeting point of a river with another body of water, typically another river or the sea.
A river is the home of an entire ecosystem, each aquatic habitat hosting numerous species of plants, fish or even birds, many of which are migratory. The fauna around rivers varies with respect to the quantity of organic matter, or the presence of trees and shrubbery on its banks.
Rivers also collect precipitation and other surface runoff from industrial and agricultural sources. As such, our rivers have become polluted and the species living in their waters are now threatened.
In an attempt to reduce water pollution, numerous countries have put in place water treatment plants to reduce « point source » pollution from populated areas. However, « non-point source » pollution in the way of industrial or agricultural runoff (fertilizers), or contaminants from common consumer products such as phosphates from household detergents continue to contaminate our world’s watercourses and thereby disrupt, even profoundly alter our environment.
Pollutants infiltrate all levels of an ecosystem – the water, the organic matter providing food for various invertebrates, as well as the very living organisms that inhabit a given aquatic habitat.
The presence of toxic products induces serious disturbances that reverberate throughout all the ecosystems of our environment. The reproductive cycles of certain species are affected, while deformities or modifications to the biological characteristics of fauna occur. Eventually, a general deterioration of a given aquatic ecosystem is manifest – including the disappearance of various species, and the overproliferation of microalgae. Such microscopic algae eat up the oxygen in the water, causing the death of plants and other living species.
It is possible to objectively observe a river to know if it is healthy or not. A river should provide a habitat for various types of invertebrates, with an average size of 5 to 20 mm. The variety of aquatic plants and the quality of the water are also taken into account.
All rivers must be monitered and looked after by humankind. All man-made dams should be cleared, whereas trees and shrubbery on riverbanks should not be so numerous as to prevent a proper flood of light reaching the water’s surface, at the same time that their presence is essential for riverbank stability.
Rivers shall not be obstructed, nor prevented from running their natural course. For generations to come, their survival will mean that of the species living in their waters as -well as the joy of nature lovers everywhere.
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