Rio Grande River: One of the Most Endangered in the World

Local News

It’s a well-known fact among experts, but you may not know that the Rio Grande River is one of the most endangered rivers in the world. The World Wildlife Fund ranks the Rio Grande/Bravo among the top ten most endangered. It’s an alarming label that’s been known for many years.

Now, we met with various experts from El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville to find out more about this endangered status.

Our find: Here are some of the issues that are affecting the Rio Grande.

– Pollution

– Invasive Plants

– Mismanagement of Water

– Dams/Infrastructure

– Overfishing

– Drought

– Colorado Snowfall

– Bacteria

– Salinity

The International Boundary and Water Commission tells us “Several parts of the river have counts that are above the state water quality for bacteria.”  

High bacteria counts can become a public health concerns because the river water is used as drinking water or used for crops. 

Water Management is also a great concern. The river is a shared resource heavily used on both sides of the border. In 1944 “Utilization Of Waters Of The Colorado And Tijuana Rivers And Of The Rio Grande” treaty designates how the water is managed. Scholars tells us this is something important to consider when talking about accessing the river’s water supply.

“80 percent of all of the water we use here in Laredo and you in the valley, 80 percent of the water, without this treaty we don’t have water.” – Tom Miller Director of the LBV Environmental Science Center in Laredo College… In 1991 and 2001 the river had dried up at the mouth. You had a crisis down there. That crisis could have made its way up the river. We were all looking at that.”

That lack of water led to stricter water consumption habits. Miller says that may not be the only time a crisis like this occurs. “We will have this crisis time in the very near future or two southwestern rivers… are very much in jeopardy.”

Fortunately, There is a way to help the Rio Grande River. According to experts, some efforts in place now, others can be done by just about anyone.

We’ll continue this in depth look at the river on kveo.com and on air on News Center 23 coming up October 26, 2018.

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