Most of the World's rivers are stressed, report warns Pollution, human uses endanger 
future water supply
MSNBC staff and wire reports Nov. 29 — The world’s most valuable resource, fresh 
water, is facing greater stress as we enter the 21st century, with more than half of 
all major rivers taxed by pollution, human overuse or both. The warning came Monday in 
a draft report by an international commission charged with surveying the state of 
Earth's freshwater supply.

THAT STRESS, according to the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century, not only 
impacts wildlife but also humans. Last year saw 25 million refugees from environmental 
disasters, much of it due to flooding, pollution and other water problems. The number 
marked the first time environmental refugees exceeded those from war, estimated at 21 

The report provided examples of water stress from rivers around the world, among them:

• The Yellow River in China's most important farm region is severely polluted and ran 
dry in its lower reaches 226 days out of the year in 1997. Health problems are growing 
because of poor water quality.

• The Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers in Asia have seen their flow into the Aral Sea 
reduced by three-quarters, causing a catastrophic regression in sea levels — 53 feet 
between 1962 and 1994. The region suffers the highest rate of infant mortality of all 
regions of the former Soviet Union because poor water flow and fertilizer runoff have 
fouled the seabed.

• The Colorado River in the United States, irrigating more than 3.7 million acres of 
farmland, is so exploited and polluted by agriculture that little is left to protect 
the ecosystem downstream, which has turned from lush green to salty and desolate 

• The Nile River in Africa no longer sends most of its water into the Mediterranean 
Sea. The Nile is the longest waterway in the world, yet more than 90 percent of its 
natural flow is used for irrigation or is lost through evaporation, primarily from 
reservoirs. What reaches the Mediterranean is heavily polluted with irrigation 
drainage and industrial and municipal waste.

MORE, CLEANER WATER NEEDED The report is a draft of a final document commission 
experts were working on Monday at The Hague, Netherlands. Backed by the World Bank and 
the United Nations, the commission has been charged with finding a way to ensure there 
is enough water for the world's growing population in the next century.

"We have to pay attention to how the world manages its water," said Arienne Naber, a 
geologist and commission consultant. "Production has to be increased, quality improved 
... to guarantee that we can meet the water needs of all the people on Earth and 
protect the environment."
[end excerpt]
Special Report at:

The final commission report and an action plan is to be presented for consideration to 
a world forum of government ministers and others, in March in The Hague.
The preliminary report, titled "World Water Vision: Making Water Everybody's 
Business," is online at

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           Tsonkwadiyonrat (We are ONE Spirit)

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