The American Rivers organization every year since 1986 has issued a report spotlighting the top ten U.S. rivers “at risk.” And again this year, the organization is calling for action by the general public and businesses to get the attention of “decision-makers to do the right thing.”

At a time when farmers in the watershed of the Potomac River are claiming an overstepping by federal regulators into cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, into which the river flows, and excessive blame for pollution being wrongly placed on the farming community, American Rivers chose the Potomac River as American’s number one “Most Endangered River for 2012.”  It should be noted that the organization does recognize some threat from the urban population in its announcement.

In reference to the Clean Water Act enforcement, American Rivers noted, “While the Potomac River is cleaner than it used to be, pollution is still a serious problem, and it could get much worse if Congress rolls back critical clean water safeguards.”

“As we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act this year, the
Potomac—known as ‘the nation’s river’ as it flows by the capital—is emblematic of what’s at stake for rivers nationwide,” it was further noted in the endangered rivers announcement.

American Rivers President Bob Irvin said, “If Congress slashes clean water protections, more Americans will get sick and communities and businesses will suffer. We simply cannot afford to go back to a time when the Potomac and rivers nationwide were too polluted to use.”

The list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2012, with a reference to the drainage areas affected, why each is endangered and what exactly is threatened, is below:

#1: Potomac River (MD, VA, PA, WV, DC)
Threat: Pollution
At stake: Clean water and public health

#2: Green River (WY, UT, CO)
Threat: Water withdrawals
At stake: Recreation opportunities and fish and wildlife habitat

#3: Chattahoochee River (GA)
Threat: New dams and reservoirs
At stake: Clean water and healthy fisheries

#4: Missouri River (IA, KS, MO, MT, NE, ND, SD, WY)
Threat: Outdated flood management
At stake: Public safety

#5: Hoback River (WY)
Threat: Natural gas development
At stake: Clean water and world-class fish and wildlife

#6: Grand River (OH)
Threat: Natural gas development
At stake: Clean water and public health

#7: South Fork Skykomish River (WA)
Threat: New dam
At stake: Habitat and recreation

#8: Crystal River (CO)
Threat: Dams and water diversions
At stake: Fish, wildlife, and recreation

#9: Coal River (WV)
Threat: Mountaintop removal coal mining
At stake: Clean water and public health

#10: Kansas River (KS)
Threat: Sand and gravel dredging
At stake: Public health and wildlife habitat

In a separate announcement about the river draining the most states and affecting the largest portion of population in the Midwest, American Rivers explained how the Missouri River’s outdated flood management practices compromise public safety and river health.

“The once wide Missouri, with extensive floodplains and shallow water areas, has been harnessed into a series of massive reservoirs on the upper river and a narrow, deep channel on the lower river. The channelization has made flood damages worse, putting communities at higher risk. Levees and dams can no longer be the only line of defense. Restoration of the Missouri’s floodplains and wetlands, which absorb and store floodwater, must play a critical role in the next century of flood management.

“American Rivers and its partners called on Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve public safety by fully funding programs that would result in natural flood protection, such as the Missouri River Recovery Program (MRRP), Missouri River Ecosystem Restoration Plan (MRERP) and Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS),” it was announced.

It is interesting to note that the news release about the Missouri River showed support for the American Rivers organization by the Izaak Walton League and Sierra Club.