Water Diversions

the Aral Sea + the Colorado River

Eric Cartwright + Kacey Mote

The Aral Sea

1) Which former Soviet republics border the Aral Sea? Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan

2) Which rivers mainly supply the Aral Sea? Amu Darya and Syr Darya

3) What government agency is responsible for the Aral Sea and its plight? The Soviet Union

4) Why was the water supply to the Aral Sea diverted? To irrigate the deserts and grow cotton

5) What resources did the Aral Sea supply to the local inhabitants? Water, fish, and transportation.

6) Describe three environmental effects of the fading of this sea.

Decreasing water levels, desertification of the surrounding region, loss of biodiversity, salinization of soil

7) Describe three economic impacts in the region because of water diversion.

Local agriculture was impacted greatly due to the reduction in water supply. As the water started to dry up the local fishermen could no longer catch as much fish. Native wildlife/cattle was no longer sustainable due to the lack of water.

8) How is the situation of the Salton Sea similar to the Aral Sea? How is it different? It is similar in the sense that both lakes were impacted by the use of canals and other forms of water diversion in the area. The difference is that the Salton Sea was created by the canals from the Colorado river and the Aral sea is shrinking in size because of the water diversion.

9) How would you describe this region today, other than a “sea”?

A desert.

10) Explain five health effects on people related to the vanishing Aral Sea.

Loss of water leads to dehydration. Salinization of soil makes it nearly impossible to grow crops so they starve. They can no longer sustain the use of animals because they dont have enough water. Poverty has led to increased death and birth rates in the area. A lot of the agriculture that is being done ends up poisoning the water because of the pesticides and fertilizers used in the process.

11) How can the Aral Sea be realistically rehabilitated?

By removing the water diversions. maybe not all but enough to allow the Aral Sea to grow.

12) Compare the situation in Mono Lake in California with that of the Aral Sea. in Mono lake the water was diverted for water for LA and began to shrink rapidly similar to how the Aral Sea tributaries were diverted and the water level began to decline.

13) How did the Mono Lake problem arise? Water was diverted for use in LA

14) Describe three ways the problems of Mono Lake are similar to those of the Aral Sea.

Diverted water lowered Sea/Lake levels. Water salinization levels spiked. Desertification began to set in.

15) Discuss three ways the problems of Mono Lake are different from those of the Aral Sea.

Mono lake shrank much more rapidly. Mono lake was easily fixed by protecting the tributaries for the lake. The aral sea was affected for use in agriculture not for public use.

16) Summarize the proposals and actions to remediate Mono Lake.

There were multiple different committees created to address the problems and find solutions. California leadership did an ecological study on Mono lake and found the issue and voted to protect it.

The Colorado River

17) Compare water diversion influences on the Colorado River with those on the Salton Sea and the Aral Sea.

Both were diverted for use in irrigation in desert locations.

18) Describe three ways that diversion influences on the Colorado River are different from the Salton Sea and the Aral Sea.

The Colorado river was diverted for use in areas that were in the desert and were needed to sustain the cities. The Aral sea was diverted for use in agriculture and has had negative affects on the ecosystem and desertification is setting in.

19) What is a tributary? a river or stream flowing into a larger river or lake

Find a map of the Colorado River Basin.

20) Where is the source of the Colorado River? La Poudre Pass Lake

21) What are some of the main tributaries and their sources? Gunnison River: Silver Jack Reservoir, Green River: Wind River Range of Wyoming, San Juan River: San Juan Mountains.

22) What is the most important origin of water in the Colorado River? The Rockies

23) Who decides where the water in the river system goes? Colorado River Compact governs each states rights to the rivers water

24) What is a watershed? an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas.

25) How is the Colorado River resource divided between the various states in the watershed and beyond? Upper and Lower Basin. Each basin is allocated 7.5 million acre-feet each year. The states within each decide how much water is distributed to each state.

26) How do the individual states use the water? Irrigation, recreation, water, and electrical power

27) Describe some of the conflicts that arise over water use. How are they usually resolved? With growing metropolises like Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas that are located in the middle of deserts rely heavily on the Colorado river for water and electricity. Farmers need this water for their crops as well. Transferring water from agriculture to urban areas is necessary to accommodate the growing populations. the Conflicts are usually resolved by the Supreme Court.

28) How are the conflicts between public and private use managed? The Colorado River Salinity Control Program, which is a federally funded management plan to control the use of water.

29) Serious differences with Mexico exist concerning the amount of water the Mexicans receive from the river. Explain why this problem exists and what can be done to work out this dispute between the countries…. Water is diverted away from Mexico before it even reaches the border.

30) The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers cross international boundaries in their path to the Persian Gulf. Why is this problem potentially greater than the one that exists on the Colorado River? Mexico and US water is mainly for irrigation. Euphrates and Tigris water mostly used for consumption, sanitation, and irrigation and when there is a lack of irrigation water it ruins Iraq’s economy. Also the Euphrates and Tigris involves three countries whereas the Mexican and US only involves two.

31) Compare the problem of water diversions on the Yangtze River in China with those of the Colorado River….The Colorado river gives Mexico a shortage of water. The Yangtze River gives a shortage of water in northern China. The shortage of water in Mexico prevents irrigation where the shortage of water in northern China is causing domestic conflicts and causing agricultural districts in to suffering. The yangtze river is domestic but the Colorado river is international.

32) The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China is very controversial. Why was this dam built? It was an attempt to help the shortages so water in northern China

33) Describe how this dam differs from dams on the Colorado River, such as the Glen Canyon Dam or the Hoover Dam, with respect to the following: disruption of human life, environmental impact, archaeology, local culture, and natural beauty… The three gorges dams coerced over half a million residents from their homes, caused disasters, prevents fish from traveling upstream, displaced endangered species,44 archaeological sites and ancient monuments were affected, the beauty was decimated and cultural artifacts were lost whereas the Hoover Dam, for example was built in a desert, endangered four fish species, archaeological sites flooded, didn't help desert culture.

Comment Stream

2 years ago

While I like the idea of putting the information in paragraph form, your answers were very adequate and well-written. Environmentally, water diversion has its pros and its cons. While it does prevent often dangerous flooding, the displacement of local wildlife and human populations, barrier for migrating fish, and break in the natural flood cycle can all be detrimental to the surrounding environment.