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Unformatted text preview: Watershed Management As we begin the 21st century all nations on earth will increasingly share an enormous and complex environmental problem that generates geopolitical, social and economic conflict – insufficient water supplies to meet growing population and development needs. International, civil and cultural conflicts over water use and supply will become commonplace in this century. Current high profile conflicts in the news are just previews of the future: United States’ water diversions from the Colorado River result in too little water reaching Mexico and depletion of the Ogallala aquifer; India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are in conflict over diversion of the Brahmaputra, Ganges and Indus rivers for agricultural purposes, as well as groundwater depletion; Iraq, Syria and Turkey compete for water from the Tigris and Euphrates; Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt vie so strenuously for Nile River flows that less water reaches the Mediterranean each year, with consequent negative impacts to fisheries and other coastal resources throughout the region; in China the Yellow River runs dry an average of 200 days per year, negatively impacting coastal resources; Central Asia drains the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers for irrigation, and is thus slowly killing the Aral Sea. These examples are just a few of the highest profile international cases of water usage, depletion and conflict in the world as we enter the 21st century. Other examples of water conflicts within nations and localized conflicts within watersheds are occurring in nearly every country today. Effective remedies to solve water conflicts, insufficient surface supplies and inadequate recharge of aquifers in a sustainable manner must be sought at the natural ecological boundaries of the watershed. Watersheds are bounded by a ridgeline, or elevation contour, that delimits a drainage basin, or catchment. Within each catchment ecological processes are complex and interdependent to create an ecosystem. Human intervention to divert water for agriculture, power production, flood control, etc. has altered the natural processes in many watersheds. This plus destructive land uses have degraded watersheds resulting in nonfunctioning ecosystems that increasingly are unable to provide basic and sustainable water resources. Since water naturally flows down hill from the watershed boundary through the drainage basin, the watershed is the integrating influence for both natural and human uses and processes within each catchment. We therefore use the watershed as the natural ecosystem boundary, and the area natural and human uses and processes within each catchment....
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This note was uploaded on 10/10/2011 for the course ENGINEERIN 102 taught by Professor Rolandolavisto during the Spring '11 term at Divine Word.
- Spring '11
- Civil Engineering