Upper Delaware River most endangered in U.S.: report

Wed Jun 2, 2010 11:38am EDT
 
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By Jon Hurdle

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters Life!) - The Upper Delaware River in New York State, the source of drinking water for 17 million people, is the most endangered river in the United States, according to a new report.

It is one of 10 rivers on a list, compiled by U.S. environmental group American Rivers, which are threatened due to causes such as natural gas drilling, mining and poor flood management.

The Upper Delaware topped the list because of the threat of contamination from chemicals used in gas drilling in New York and on the Pennsylvania side of the watershed.

Gas drilling was also the reason why the Monongahela River in western Pennsylvania was rated ninth on the list.

Others endangered rivers include the Gauley River in West Virginia, which came in third and is threatened by mountain-top mining, and the Upper Colorado River, which is sixth and has been diminished by water diversions. The report said it could become "a shadow of its former self" if two new diversion projects proceed.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in California was second on the list, and Little River in North Carolina and Cedar River in Iowa rounded out the top five.

The Little River is under threat because of a proposed new dam. But American Rivers said the project could be avoided by improved water-efficiency methods and the expansion of existing reservoirs.

In the Upper Delaware campaigners are trying to prevent gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, a major source of natural gas that lies beneath the river's watershed.   Continued...

 
<p>Floodwaters converging from the Delaware River and the Delaware and Raritan Canal surge through the yard of an evacuated home in Yardley, Pennsylvania, June 29, 2006. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky</p>