American Rivers released its 2009 Most Endangered Rivers List, and unfortunately, the South and Mid Atlantic were well represented. Rivers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana made the top ten. The report is not a list of the nation’s most polluted waterways, but highlights 10 rivers facing decisions in the coming year that could determine their long-term future.
Georgia’s Flint River earned the #2 spot, just behind the Sacramento-San Joaquin River in California. Here’s a rundown of the regional rivers on the list:
#2. Flint River, Georgia: The Flint is one of 40 rivers nationwide that still flow undammed for more than 200 miles. Dams proposed by Georgia lawmakers would bury more than 50 river miles, destroying recreational opportunities and costing taxpayers millions of dollars. American Rivers believes that fixing the state’s leaky pipes, using water meters and minimizing water waste would be a cheaper and more cost-effective alternative.
#4. Mattawoman Creek, Maryland: A highway development project jeopardizes one of the Chesapeake Bay’s few remaining healthy streams. The project threatens clean water sources, thousands of acres of forests and wetlands, and an internationally clebrated largemouth bass fishery.
#6. Saluda River, South Carolina: Excess levels of sewage waste threaten the drinking water of more than a half-million Upstate residents. Sewage in the river increases phosphorous and algae levels, depletes oxygen, and kills fish and other aquatic life. American Rivers is asking the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to improve sewage-treatment standards and ensure the river reduces its phosphorous levels by 25 to 50 percent.
#7. Laurel Hill Creek, Pennsylvania: Known s a popular paddling playground, Laurel Hill Creek faces threats from a bottling plant and tourism-related development. Without adequate planning and safeguards, withdrawals will continue to exceed the creek’s reasonable capacity, putting recreation, the local water supply, and fish and wildlife in jeopardy.
#9. Pascagoula River, Mississippi: The U.S. Department of Energy wants to hollow out natural salt domes 30 miles northwest of the Pascagoula to create a storage area for up to 160 million barrels of oil. A pipeline 330 miles in length would be constructed to withdraw water from the Pascagoula to dissolve the salt domes and distribute oil to and from the site. The DOE predicts 18 oil spills and 75 spills of salty, polluted water during the construction and initial fill of the hollowed domes, damaging rivers, streams, and wetlands in the basin, conservationists say.
To view the complete Top Ten Endangered Rivers report and learn more about each river, click here.