David Braun with Sean Markey
National Geographic News
July 7, 2003
Seven percent of the world's freshwater flows through Canadian rivers. But industrial development and pollution threaten many of Canada's rivers, according to the environmental groups EarthWild International and Wildcanada.net. To highlight rivers at risk, the groups announced their second annual list of the country's ten most endangered rivers today.
Topping the list is New Brunswick's Petitcodiac River. A long-standing causeway on the river dams tidal flow from the Atlantic Ocean, adversely impacting river health. Quebec's Eastmain and Rupert rivers, threatened by a planned hydro-electric project, follow in second place. Other rivers on the 2003 National Endangered Rivers List include three in British Columbia: the Okanagan (third), and the Taku and Iskut rivers (tied for fourth place); followed by Ontario's Groundhog River (fifth); Alberta's Milk and Bow rivers (sixth and tenth, respectively); the Yukon and Northwest Territory's Peel River (seventh); Manitoba's Red River (eighth); and Labrador's Churchill (ninth).
National Geographic News recently spoke with David Boyd, chairperson of Canada's Endangered Rivers Committee for Vancouver-based EarthWild International, about the list.
Five rivers on the list cross the Canada/U.S. border. Are there special concerns associated with such transboundary rivers?
By their very nature, rivers that cross borders are subject to multiple demands and multiple abuses, creating potential tension between those people living upstream and those living downstream. Transboundary rivers like the Red, Milk, and Taku offer an opportunity for neighbors like Canada and the U.S. to cooperate in conserving and protecting rivers that are important to both nations. Although certain tools exist, like the International Joint Commission and the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act, governments on both sides of the border have been slow to take the actions required to adequately respect and protect great rivers like the Taku, which runs through...