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To learn more about the effects of invasive plants on freshwater systems in South Africa read Working for Water, Working for Human Welfare in South Africa in World Resources 2000-2001.(Free Adobe Acrobat Reader required)
Managing the Mekong River
The Mekong River stretches 4,880 kilometers from its source on the Tibetan plateau to its outlet on the coast of Vietnam. It is the world's twelfth longest river and the heart of a 795,000 square kilometer watershed that includes six of Southeast Asia's richest and poorest countries
In jeopardy are the livelihoods of many of the 55 million people who live in the river basin. Many are poor and depend on the river and its tributaries for survival. For example, fish from the river provides 40% to 60% of the protein consumed by the people in the lower basin. Dams threaten fish migrations, the flood cycle that sustains the area's fish production, and the Mekong's biodiversity. And these are just a few of the biological functions that would be affected.
To learn more about development in the Mekong River watershed, read Managing the Mekong River: Will a Regional Approach Work? in World Resources 2000-2001. (Free Adobe Acrobat Reader required)
New York City's Watershed Protection Plan
New York City's residents have enjoyed drinking high quality, clean tap water for more than a century. Their supply, about 1.3 billion gallons a day, comes from a 1,970 square mile upstate watershed that encompasses the Croton, Catskill, and Delaware reservoir systems. Unlike water supplies in most large cities, New York City's water isn't run through a filtration plant. Historically, the watershed has cleaned the water. The undisturbed soil, trees, and wetlands
But in the last several decades, increasing numbers of people have moved to the upstate watersheds. With them came more roads, wastewater, and pollutants everything from farm runoff containing a cocktail of fertilizers and herbicides, to road salts and motor oils. The natural filtration process that the watershed once provided was strained and water quality deteriorated.
In 1990 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency put the city on notice: protect the watershed its natural filtration and treatment processes or construct and operate a water filtration system. Such a system was estimated to cost $3-$8 billion. The city chose, instead, to buy and protect the watershed at a price of $1.5 billion. But what will happen if farmers in the upstate watersheds don't comply with voluntary pollution protection commitments? Also, some environmental organizations are concerned that the settlement negotiated between EPA and the City contains loopholes in the watershed rules and land-buying requirements. Laudable though this ecosystem protection plan may be, can it work? The key will be adequately controlling development in the regions. Whether it's controlled or not, a filtration plant may eventually have to be built anyway.
To learn more, read New York City's Watershed Protection Plan in World Resources 2000-2001. (Free Adobe Acrobat Reader required)
Source: This profile is adapted from the companion book, World Resources 2000-2001.
The Value of Ecosystems
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