Water Diversions

Aral Sea

  1. Which former soviet republics border the Aral Sea?
    1. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
  2. Which rivers mainly supply the Aral sea?
    1. The Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers
  3. What government agency is responsible for the Aral Sea and its plight?
    1. The World Bank
  4. Why was the water supply to the Aral Sea diverted?
    1. The 2 rivers that supplied the sea were diverted to irrigate the desert lands to grow the common crops.
  5. What resources did the Aral Sea supply to the local inhabitants?
    1. Rice, melons, cereals, and cotton.
  6. Describe three environmental effects of the fading of the Aral Sea.
    1. Salinization of the lake, boats littering landscape, blowing dust.
  7. Describe 3 economic impacts in the region because of the water diversion.
    1. Fish catch has gone down, towns have went deserted, and agriculture was impacted due to the dust storms the empty lake has caused.
  8. How is the situation of the Salton Sea similar to the Aral Sea? How is it different?
    1. They’re going through the same issue due to the decrease in water level and increase in salinity.
  9. How would you describe this region today, other than as a “sea.”
    1. It’s mostly just a barren wasteland, a pure desert.
  10. Explain five health effects on on people related to the vanishing Aral sea.
    1. This area became highly polluted and the health issues are quite harsh. Lack of fresh water has lead to most of these other problems.
    2. Respiratory diseases like cancer, digestive disorders, and anaeia.
    3. Toxic dust storms, causing liver, kidney, and eye problems
    4. High child mortality rate
    5. Kidney and heart disease has increased
  11. How can the Aral Sea be realistically rehabilitated?
    1. You can build irrigation canals as well as plants that connect the Volga and Ob rivers in russia.
  12. Compare the situation in Mono Lake in California with that of the Aral Sea.
    1. The owens river in Mono Lake has went through the same issue as the two rivers that supply the Aral Sea
  13. How did the Mono Lake problem arise?
    1. When the citizens of Los Angeles started to divert water from the lake to meet their needs.
  14. Describe three ways the problems of Mono Lake are similar to those of the Aral Sea.
    1. Water was diverted to meet the human needs, local economy went down, and health problems for humans went crazy.
  1. Describe three ways the problems of Mono Lake are different to those of the Aral Sea.
    1. The lake was saved by the Mono Lake committee while the sea wasn’t.Russia took water from the sea to water crops while the city of Los Angeles took water to support their growing population. All the shrimp died in the Aral sea due to the drainage while the Lake still has some.
  2. Summarize the proposals and actions to remediate Mono Lake.
    1. Re-establish natural methods. Giving creeks a peak flow and the lake will naturally fill back up. They also are reopening side channels to raise the water table.

The Colorado River

  1. Compare water diversion influences on the Colorado River with those on the Salton Sea and the Aral Sea
    1. The Colorado River's diversions aren't directly impacting large bodies of water like those of the Aral Sea. The Aral sea has drastically shrunk in size. The Colorado river has trouble replenishing sand on some of it's beaches now, and it's Delta in Mexico is deprived of nutrients.
  2. Describe three ways that diversion influences on the Colorado River are different from the Salton Sea and the Aral Sea.

                      Water diversion has caused the Aral Sea to shrink over the years. In The Colorado river, there is a large issue of the available water for people to use down river, rather than any actual seriously receding shoreline. The Colorado river flows into the Salton Sea, so any diversions of water further up the Colorado River leaves less water to flow into the Salton Sea.

  1. What is a tributary?
    1. A river or stream flowing into a larger river or lake.
  1. Where is the source of the Colorado River?
    1. La Poudre Pass Lake
  2. What are some of the main tributaries and their sources?
    1. The green river, the gunnison river, dirty devil, escalante, san juan, paria, little colorado, kanab, virgin, bill williams, and the gila. Runoff is the chief source of water for tributaries
  3. What is the most important origin of water in the Colorado River?
    1. Runoff water from high mountain systems
  4. Who decides where the water in the river system goes?
    1. Seven states that the Colorado River waters touch decide how the water is allocated. The Colorado River Compact established this in 1922.
  5. What is a watershed?
    1. An area of land in which the flow of water is divided into multiple streams or rivers.
  6. How is the Colorado River resource divided between the various states in the watershed and beyond?
    1. As previously discussed, the 1922 Colorado River Compact established how water would be allocated.
  7. How do the individual states use the water?
    1. Various dams redirect the water as necessary to be used for agriculture and drinking water.
  8. Describe some of the conflicts that arise over water use. How are they usually resolved?
    1. Issues like a changing population in the west and changing needs in general require constant reallocation of water resources. This is usually handled by various conferences, which determine how water will be distributed.
  9. How are the conflicts between public and private use managed?
    1. Disputes over whether water is public or private property are handled by the court system. The general idea in the US is that private ownership of water is a responsibility and water ownership has been municipalized due to private failure to make necessary investments in water control structures. The Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program requires that water in the Colorado river be of a certain quality, and thus private contamination could be seen as a public issue. (http://www.usbr.gov/uc/progact/salinity/)
  10. 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.
    1. This problem exists because as water is pulled in the US, less ends up in Mexico by the end of the line of water. This can be remedied by having the US and Mexico agree on a usage limit to ensure that enough water be left by the time to river hits Mexican territory.
  11. 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?
    1. The area that those rivers are in is more arid, so the water is more needed in that area. Thus, international conflict could occur if one entity is hogging the water.
  12. Compare the problem of water diversions on the Yangtze River in China with those of the Colorado River.
    1. Both issues are very similar in that there is a shared water resource being potentially overutilized in certain area, which can have human and environmental impacts.
  13. The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China is very controversial. Why was this dam built?
    1. The dam was built to prevent flooding downstream, generate electricity, and to provide a potential tourist attraction.
  14. 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.
    1. The Three Gorges Dam is significantly larger than the Hoover Dam, suggesting that it’s destruction of natural beauty is greater. Additionally, this also translates to a larger displacement of people and therefore a larger disruption of human life. The Three Gorges Dam has the potential to disrupt more than 300 species living in the Yangtze River. The Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dams also have controversial environmental impacts like water table lowering, but it is believed that fewer species will be affected. The Glen Canyon Dam is thought to threaten archaeological sites as it promotes erosion. The Three Gorges dam also is predicted to wipe out many archaeological sites as it’s water level rises. There is a race to save artifacts before this occurs.