Common wealth from healthy rivers
Cycling wastes and
nutrients and generating soil
Waste recycling and dilution: Water
itself is used to dilute and process the myriad
substances that we produce and dispose of as waste.
Industrial manufacturing relies on copious amounts
of water to produce human-made goods and to process
Ecological fertility and rejuvenation:
Wetlands, floodplain forests, other native plant
communities and water tables are refreshed and
recharged with naturally flowing river systems and
periodic floods. River ecosystems also support the
array of decomposers and recyclers of dead material
that cycle nutrients, generate soil fertility, and
prevent the accumulation of waste. A vast array of
little-noticed organisms performs other essential
services. Insects and birds pollinate hundreds of
species of plants. Numerous predators,
insectivores, and parasites control pests.
Soil and shoreline generation: The
geologic process of weathering, or breaking down
rocks over time to form soil, is a result of
repeated freezing and thawing in rock fissures.
Deltas, beaches, and shorelines form as upland
soils are moved downstream through rivers and
streams and deposited.