Snake River is the longest river in North American, and among the 10th longest rivers in the U.S.A (Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, 1989). It flows out of Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. The river bends across the entire southern part of the State of Idaho. Human impact on the environment of the Snake River
Following the fact that the human race needs water for survival, there are some observations that have impacted the good environment of the Snake River. The river has led to a growth of several hydropower points as the water produces the geothermal. This adds up to the growth of industries that require a constant water supply. However, owing to none compliance with the water boards or the clean water act of Idaho, the community gets irregularities like, industrial waste disposal, to sewage diversions leading to river water contamination.
Unregulated population near the river has resulted in some human adversities like the growth of agriculture leading to degradation of water quality due to the disposal of substances like herbicides and pesticides such as nitrates fertilizers and animal waste.
The artificial diversions of water and manmade dams have also affected the full constant flow of the clean water which affected the natural life found in the river, as the fish migration and their health. Although it is noted that the growth of industries and agricultural production has a positive impact on the supply of food and electricity has greatly increased and regularized to the people of Idaho. It is good to observe the necessity conserve the river environment.
Focusing on the positive impact, there are several advantages. First, the Snake River water supply aids mostly in agriculture. Irrigation is a major activity around the area. The irrigators use groundwater pumps causing a continuous water circulation. The pumps use electricity that is cheaply available from the dams. Others activities on the Snake River are the provision of hydroelectric power for industrial use and also recreation activities. The Idahoans depend on use of water especially for industrial, livestock, domestic and also for agricultural purposes
Issues of the Snake River
First, the lack of a well-compiled data quality on the river has a large negative impact. A lack of comprehensive water data on the Snake River and its tributaries has been an issue. Idaho has not complied with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to administer the NPEDS permit under the Clean Waters Supply. According to the research done in Idaho by the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) its shows 36% of the stream required TMDL for future quality standards (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995).
Furthermore, the water quality has significantly been affected by the nitrate, herbicides and the phosphates produced from the fertilizers, therefore, making water be terminated. Excess nitrates in water can make the survival of living things difficult.
Also, mulch dams and its diversions are outdated and no longer of quality. The multi-dams have had a negative impact on the river flow, quality of water and even fish movement. The diversion of the Snake River has continually deteriorated as the human population increases. Similarly, industrial activities by humans and disposal of waste into the river have led to the increased population. The population growth of human has also altered the flow regime of the Snake River, therefore, reducing the quality of fish berths.
Moreover, irrigation around the river has largely changed the quality of soil around it, and, in addition, the dams used for irrigation causes depletion of fresh water such seen in Snake River. Idaho drinking water comes from groundwater, which at times terminated due to human activities (Richard & Kirk, 2014). Contamination of water can cause waterborne related diseases. Likewise, the lack of water data has made the production of hydropower almost impossible due to the alternations of the river flow and its quality of water.
Besides, dairy farming is a prevalent activity that the Idaho population practices in the area where the animals are reared in one particular confined area (Maret, 1995). The animals produce a lot of manure, and the farmers later dispose of it without any treatment. The act puts the people’s health at risk, and the river waters at a risk of being polluted. The waste from the animals contains ammonia and nitrate that is highly unsafe especially for young children as it can cause a severe health problem.
How to eliminate the issues from the Snake River
In eliminating the issues with Snake River, Idaho ought to comply with the EPA standards for future purposes; despite the designation of the problem little has been done. To accomplish this farm writes the environmental law with regulations to be met. Again, agriculturalists should treat waste disposal before releasing them. The trend would significantly reduce the rate of pollution on the water and its environs. On the other hand, the four dams should be removed to improve the water that flows into the river. It is to be noted that the real issues with the river snake are manmade. First, the irregular high population of human and animals must be controlled. Industries must be advised to follow the right path to dispose the waste from the industries. Also, farmers must also be enlightened on how to conserve the river for the good of the future and its productivity by keeping away from the river bed and avoid creating more artificial streams and dams that alter the flow the water. Finally, animal waste must also be well disposed to avoid ground water contamination as well as good use of fertilizers application without contaminating the water.
- Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, (1989). Idaho water quality status report and nonpoint source assessment, 1988: Boise, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Division of Environmental Quality, 170 p
- Maret, T.R., (1995) Water-quality assessment of the upper Snake River Basin, Idaho and western Wyoming— summary of aquatic biological data for surface water through 1992: U.S. Geological Survey WaterResources Investigations Report 95–4006, 59 p
- Richard M., & Kirk A,. (2014).Idaho’s Sewer System Is The Snake River. Retrieved on 5 October, 2015 from https://www.hcn.org/issues/46.13/idahos-sewer-system-is-the-snake- river
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1995). Snake River Aquatic Species Recovery Plan: Boise, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Snake River Basin Office, Ecological Services, 92 p