The salinisation of rivers is a global problem that affects to countries all over the world and it causes a high environmental and economic cost, and poses a high risk to global health.
Climate change and the increasing water consumption can worsen even more the future scene, according to an article published on the journal Environmental Pollution based on the research developed by an international team led by the experts of the Department of Ecology of the University of Barcelona Narcís Prat and Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles.
According to Miguel Cañello-Argüelles “this article aims at giving a integrating view and emphasize the seriousness of the ecological, economic and global health effects that secondary salinisation has.” The expert remarks that it is a global process: “It happens in many regions from all over the world, although there is a great ignorance about the problem.”
The most extreme case of salinisation occurs in some Australian rivers. “However — Cañedo-Argüelles adds — , in this case local studies have been done in order to clearly diagnose the problem; therefore, all the agents who make use of the natural resources of some rivers (farmers, industrialists, etc.) have collaborated in the process of finding solutions.”
Looking for solutions
According to the article, current legislation is generally flexible when it comes to establish limits for salt concentrations in rivers. In Europe, salinisation is not considered an important problem and no legally prescribed environmental quality standards exist for salt. In many countries, business and industrial factor predominates over the necessity to set a limiting regulation. Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles considers that “legislation is still waiting. People are not aware of the severity of the problem and information about the effects of excessive salt on river ecosystems is missing.”
In the article, the authors also quote some successful management strategies, for example, the Hunter River salinity trading scheme upstream in Singleton (Australia), with controlled salt discharges adapted to the volume of the river: when the volume is high, more salt is discharged, whereas when it goes down the quantity of salt is reduced.
In a future
The study states that the effects of global change could increase even more the salinisation of rivers in many regions. Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles thinks that “it is difficult to predict the impact of climate change. In comparison with other regions of the planet, lower rainfall, worse drought, more water consumption, and therefore, more salinity in rivers are expected in the Mediterranean region.”
Finally, Narcís Prat concludes that “the most important aspect is to stop fighting and began to work together. It is necessary to react against the problem of excessive salinity in Catalan and worldwide rivers before it will be a severer problem.”
From | sciencedaily.com
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