Salinisation of Rivers
With often devastating environmental impacts and high economic costs, the salinisation of rivers is a problem that is beginning to affect all of us, no matter what country we live in. Global climate change (be it natural or anthropogenicaly forced) and increasing demands for fresh water are making the issue we face worse.
Of course, river salinity can be natural. The geology of the area where a river flows may contain salt minerals such as gypsum or halite that are preferentially and easily dissolved by flowing water, or by the climate. However an increasingly large amount of the salinity in our river systems is coming from anthropogenic forces; industrial and agricultural activity, mining, and waste discharge from domestic sites.
In all of the Earth’s river systems, the additional salinity from man-made situations is threatening not just the ecosystems in the natural world that depend on the rivers for survival, but ultimately also the human race, who at the end of the scale depend on the rivers for drinking water. The additional salinity caused by our own doing is giving us an economic headache, as well as being a threat to the health of the public. Many of the chemicals used to make saline water drinkable are harmful to human health, as well as being poisonous to many plants and animals; this affects the long term food-web.