Articles on Rivers

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The January 2019 collapse of a dam in Brumadinho, Brazil, sent mining tailings and mud over the landscape for miles, destroying this bridge and killing 300 people. Andre Penner/AP

Mine waste dams threaten the environment, even when they don’t fail

Dams built to hold enormous quantities of toxic mining waste have a long history of spills. Decisions in the Pacific Northwest threaten three free-flowing rivers there.
Waters from the Herbert River, which runs toward one of northern Australia’s richest agricultural districts, could be redirected under a Bradfield scheme. Patrick White

‘New Bradfield’: rerouting rivers to recapture a pioneering spirit

The ‘New Bradfield’ scheme seeks to revive a nation-building ethos supposedly stifled by bureaucratic inertia. But there are good reasons the scheme never became a reality.
Grant Elliott/Unsplash.

Curious Kids: why is the sea salty?

The salt in the sea has built up over billions of years – but it wouldn't have got there without freshwater rivers and streams.
Extreme flooding during Hurricane Maria in 2017 was hazardous for the Puerto Rican people. But a new study finds that it helped native fish populations rebound after years of drought. AP Photo/Alvin Baez

Caribbean fish love catastrophic hurricanes

Big storms with lots of flooding, like hurricanes Dorian and Maria, actually restore the Caribbean's delicate balance between native and nonnative fish species, new research finds.
The white “bathtub ring” around Arizona’s Lake Mead (shown on May 31, 2018), which indicates falling water levels, is about 140 feet high. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Western states buy time with a 7-year Colorado River drought plan, but face a hotter, drier future

Western states adopted a 7-year plan in May 2019 to manage low water levels in the Colorado River. Now they need to look farther ahead and accept that there will be less water far into the future.
The San Pedro Mezquital River is the last free-flowing river in Mexico’s western Sierra Madre. Octavio Aburto

Hydropower dams can harm coastal areas far downstream

Thousands of hydropower dams are under construction around the world. New research shows that by cutting off sediment flow, these dams can have big ecological effects on far-off bays and deltas.

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