Report to aid nation in managing freshwaters

Blacksburg, Va., Jan 31, 2003 -- Paul Angermeier, associate professor of fisheries and wildlife sciences in Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources, helped develop the 2002 Ecological Society of America (ESA) report on meeting the future needs for freshwater sustainability. Freshwater is vital to human life and the well-being of society because it provides commodities and services in consumption, irrigation, and transportation.

The report, "Meeting Ecological and Societal Needs for Freshwater," published in the November 2002 issue of the journal Ecological Applications (Vol. 12, pp 247-260), explains the requirements scientists use to assess the current status of freshwater ecosystems. The information will help policy makers, water managers, and communities to more wisely allocate water resources. "We also recommend ways in which freshwater ecosystems can be protected, maintained, and restored," explains Angermeier.

"Western rivers in the United States are prime examples of how flow manipulation can lead to multiple damages to rivers and communities," says Angermeier. The lack of freshwater flows have contributed to the widespread loss of native fish species in the Colorado River, Glen Canyon Dam, and at the mouth of the Gulf of California, where the bivalve mollusk muscles population has dropped by 94 percent from 1950. In other areas of concern freshwater temperatures have dropped dramatically. "This has resulted in the development of a nonnative trout population and an unusual food web more commonly found in the Arctic regions," explains Angermeier.

The South Florida ecosystem is home to more than six million people. Efforts began in the early 1900s to drain the Everglades wetlands, which were viewed as wastelands and useless swamps. The water projects were not designed with environmental protection or enhancement in mind. According to the report, although it's not possible to restore the region to its pristine condition, efforts

Contact: Paul Angermeier
Virginia Tech

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