Today’s topic will focus on Inland Waters. The discussion is part of a series of lectures-0n-line from Earthniversity. This is also continuing advocacy on the issues that face our planet Earth, specifically those major categories listed in our “About” page. To a certain extent, inland waters are much protected in some developed countries. The challenge of conservation and protection of Inland Waters is a reality in other countries and most probably in the Third World countries where resources for its protection and conservation is wanting. Specifically, on the sides of the rivers, lakes, bays, creek, canals, and estuaries, the encroachment of human settlements faces a big challenge for the Local Government Units.
In most cases, these settlements contribute to the pollution of inland waters when residents dump their garbage on it. Flooding, contamination of mine tailing if a mining exploration is present in the community, overexploitation such as sucking of water by irrigation pumps, and many others, are not the only threats to the health of Inland Waters but the invasion of certain species of organisms – flora or fauna that may damage if not destroy its biodiversity.
So, how could these inland waters be conserved or protected? Before we tackle these issues let me first present a few backgrounders.
Water is the result of the hydrologic cycle. It is described as “the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth. The mass water on Earth remains fairly constant over time but the partitioning of water into the major reservoirs of ice, fresh water, saline water, and atmospheric water is variable depending on the wide range of climatic variables. The water moves from one reservoir to another such as, from rivers to the ocean or from the ocean to the atmosphere, by physical processes of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration, runoff and subsurface flow. In so doing, the water goes through different phases – Liquid, Solid (ice) and gas (vapor).” (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)
When the waters fall to the ground, it will seek its level, forcing it to form inland waters such as a lake, pond, basin, and others. Water flowing from the upland may flow through the channels of river systems, creeks, canals and others. For bigger rivers where its upland source of water is so huge, the LGU may capture it in the form of a dam and process it as electricity, potable water, and irrigation. Examples are Angat Dam and Ambuklao Dam in the Philippines. Hoover Dam in the state of Nevada, which I visited a few years ago.
According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Inland Waters are aquatic-influenced environments located within land boundaries. This includes those located in the coastal areas, even where adjacent to marine environments. Inland water systems can be fresh, saline or a mix of the two – brackish water. In other countries, inland waters may be located in the interior part of the country or huge body of the land but it is saline and another inland water located near the coastal area but the water is fresh.
According to the government website of the United Kingdom, the link is cited at the end of this page, “Inland Waters include any area of water not categorized as “sea” example: canals, tidal and non-tidal rivers, lakes and some Estuarial Waters (an arm of sea that extends inland to meet the mouth of a river.)”
Examples of Inland Rivers that are used for navigation are: Mississipi River and Hudson River in the U.S., and Pasig River and Agusan River in the Philippines. In my province Negros Occidental, there are a few rivers that are navigable such as Quinaorian River in Victorias City, Bago River, Talubangi River, Ilog River, Sicaba River, and Himoga-an River, among others. Tributaries of these rivers are the uplands, passing through several farmlands and dump into the Visayan Sea in the East, Guimaras Strait in the West and the Sulu Sea in the South of Negros Occidental. Himoga-an River in Sagay is also a tourism destination because of their 2-hour river cruise.
Classified as Inland Water, Ilog River in Negros Occidental is also an estuary linked to Barangay Andulawan and Barangay Bocana waterways. It is the home of various species of resident and migratory birds and wildlife. A few are endemic and endangered species.
The Free Dictionary by Farlex describes Inland Waters as follows:
“canals, lakes, rivers, watercourses, inlets, and bays that are nearest to the shores of a nation and subject to its complete sovereignty. Inland waters, also known as internal waters, are subject to the total sovereignty of the country as much as if they were an actual part of its land territory. A coastal nation has the right to exclude foreign vessels, subject to the right of entry in times of distress. Whether or not particular waters are to be regarded as inland waters has traditionally been dependent upon historical and geographical factors. Certain types of shoreline configurations have been regarded as confining bodies of water, such as bays. In addition, there has been a recognition that other areas of water that are closely connected to the shore may be regarded as inland waters based upon the manner in which they have been treated by the coastal nation, although they do not meet any exact geographical test. Historic title to inland waters can be claimed only in situations when the coastal nation has asserted and maintained dominion and control over those waters.”
What are the possible threats to inland waters?
Rivers, creeks, watercourses, inlets, bays, canals and other forms of inland waters face possible threats from pollution such as garbage, chemicals from nearby farms using fertilizers, factories, uncontrolled multiplication of other organisms in the water like water lilies, the rushing of mine tailing to inland waters, floods and so on and so forth pose a great threats to inland waters.
Book Abstract on Inland Waters was taken from the book entitled, Aquatic Conservation by W.D. Williams.
I placed hereunder the Abstract of this book. It focuses on Conservation of Inland Waters, Management of Inland Waters, Community Groups, and Public Participation.
1. Many international and national bodies have stressed the need for community participation in the conservation and management of inland waters. Community participation is needed for three basic reasons: to implement management measures difficult to enforce without community support; to act as a mechanism in protecting inland waters through the support of conservation bodies; and, through voluntary actions, to monitor, restore and rehabilitate inland water-bodies.
2. It is important to conserve and manage inland waters because of their many values and uses. To participate fully in conservation and management measures, the community needs to (a) recognize the importance of inland waters as a part of the global hydrological cycle, (b) have some knowledge of the nature and effects of major human impacts on inland waters, and (c) be aware of certain legal issues.
3. The ‘community’ is heterogeneous in nature but community groups of similar interest can be recognized. They vary from small, local action groups, through national groups to international bodies. They provide advice to and support government actions; others oppose and seek to change government actions. Community involvement can be at various levels, from the relatively inactive to the vigorously proactive.
4. Environmental education of the community should begin in childhood, continue at school and other educational institutions, and lasts throughout life. Information on the conservation and management of inland waters is available from many sources, but a powerful, modern source is the World Wide Web.
5. Four case studies are discussed with particular reference to community participation: Lake Washington and Mono Lake in the US (successful outcomes), the Aral Sea in central Asia and Lake Pedder in Australia (unsuccessful outcomes). Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. (Reference cited at the bottom of this page)
Is there any way humans can do to conserve and protect Inland Waters?
Precisely there is. Local laws and cooperation between government and stakeholders can improve the chances of Inland Waters from becoming healthy and promote the conservation and protection of Inland Waters for the use of the present as well as the future generations. If you are thinking of doing a project, to begin with, your local community, you can read your local environment code or any environment plan of your LGU, local government unit – town, city, province. These documents have data where you can base your local initiative or project.
For example, Inland Waters Conservation and Protection Project may focus on rivers, creeks, water inlets, lakes, and others. The most common project but very laudable one is Waterways Clean-Up Project. The public information campaign to educate the local residents about the four R’s could also help minimize the landing of rubbish or garbage into the waterways. In this activity, the local community will learn the value of reuse, reduce, recycling and rot or composting. You can look for volunteers with expertise on these topics to talk about the 4 R’s.
You may also involve the expertise of local waterworks personnel as a resource person on watershed conservation and protection. On a higher level, sewage treatment and water treatment issues can be discussed with the local community and local government officials on what strategies to take to put these facilities in place. One best practice that can be used as a model here in the Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre located in Australian Capital Territory – Canberra. (ACTEW Website)
Sewage Treatment. Sewerage treatment is a complex process where sewage is treated to remove poisonous or toxic substances. Solids are separated out and the remaining water is cleaned for release back into the natural water cycle. Many different approaches to wastewater treatment exist around the world.
In Canberra, the main sewage treatment plant is the Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre (LMWQCC) where sewage is treated and released into the Molonglo River. It then flows into the Murrumbidgee River and drains into the Murray-Darling Basin river system, ultimately discharging into the ocean south of Adelaide. Water leaving this plant has been thoroughly treated, so it returns to the natural water cycle free of pollution and can be reused by other towns further downstream, specifically the farmers. Other organisms in the rivers have a feast on clean waters flowing in the river. I saw how a platypus enjoyed the river at Queanbeyan City, NSW, Australia.
In 2000, our Professor for Designing Sustainable Development from the University of Canberra took us on a field trip to Molonglo. It was a surprise for me to learn that from Canberra’s Molonglo water treatment facility, the water flows down to South Australia, specifically the capital Adelaide which faces the Southern Ocean. I was in Adelaide for a short visit to my mother and sisters. I saw a few rivers where Canberra’s water reaches in the south benefiting not only farmers but tourists who ride the river cruise over clean waters.
Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin (KBDB)
The State of Massachusetts identified the KBDB as an ACEC or Area of Critical Environmental Concern. ACEC is a conservation program in Western Massachusetts managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
Kampoosa is low and marshy land that is frequently flooded. As a Bog, it is also a muddy ground, too soft to support a heavy body. Never attempt to walk on the bog. It is also known as a Fen – a low and flooded area. It is approximately 1,35o acres and located in the towns of Lee and Stockbridge in Western Massachusetts. I have been to one of these bogs or fens, specifically in Eden Hills, Stockbridge when I visited the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy. Incidentally, the ground zero of KBDB happens to be in this Marian Order’s property.
When I saw this area in Eden Hills, it immediately caught my eyes, because I thought of the different species of plants and animals that make this bog as their habitat and is this a protected area? These were the thoughts that were running through my head as I survey the place with my eyes. Scientists refer to KBDB, technically, a Lake Basin Graminoid (grass-like) Calcareous Fen. Due to its critical ecological importance, it is now a protected and preservation area because it is the habitat of 19 rare species of plants and animals. (Energy and Environmental Affairs, Massachussetts.Gov website)
For me, this is a Best Practice that can be replicated in any LGU (Local Government Unit) specifically in my country, the Philippines. The Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin also reminded me of Ilog River Estuaries in Negros Occidental. It is the home of migratory and resident birds which scientists believed to be endemic and endangered species.
If you wish to know more about KBDB this is the link – www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/conservation/acec/kampoosa-bog-drainage-basin.html
A Strategic Planning Workshop on the Protection and Conservation of Inland Waters may be conducted by the LGU or a volunteer organization to enable the community to produce its own plan involving all the stakeholders which also include the community where the Inland Waters may be located. In the Strat Plan, specific programs and projects can be listed and how it should be implemented will be stated. The focus will be on the Protection and Conservation of Inland Waters.
Some of these projects may include the following:
1. Riverways Clean-Up, Protection, and Preservation.
2. Mangroves Tree Planting, Protection and Preservation.
3. Estuaries are important in the economic activities of a community or an island like for example Biliran Island. It is, therefore, important that the cleanliness of these estuaries, protection, and preservation of the entire length of the Estuary should be undertaken by the Local Government Unit, the Barangays and its Population. Estuaries are habitats of endemic species of birds, plants, and animals, therefore, it must be protected.
4. Estuaries are sometimes used for Eco-Tourism purposes that help in the generation of income for the Local Government Unit. An example of this is the Ilog River Cruise where tourists can enjoy a boat ride while enjoying the sights of sugarcane fields, trees, flowers and birds along the Ilog River in the Province of Negros Occidental. Another example is the Underground River Estuaries of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.
5. Creation of Blue Army, Brown Army, and Green Army in your community to initiate, implement and follow-up the cleanliness, planting of trees and mangroves, conservation and preservation of these inland waters. The Blue Army will be composed of Volunteers who will lead the cleaning up of the waterways and implement projects to promote the health and protection of the waterways. The Brown Army will be composed of Volunteers who will lead in the protection of Land Resources so that erosion and pollution caused by chemicals will not affect the inland waters. They will also help in the implementation of the Four R’s – Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, and Rot or Composting. This will reduce if not eliminate the waste and garbage to go to the waterways. The Green Army will be composed of Volunteers who will implement various programs and projects such as Tree Planting and Beautification of the Waterways and the Mangroves areas. These Armies of Volunteers may include People from the Community like Students, Educators, Civic Organizations, NGOs, and many others.
Tapping the resources of foreign governments. Implementation of programs and projects that deal with the protection and conservation of Inland Waters may be too costly for any LGU specially in the Third World countries. But, they can also look at the several “windows” of grants or loans from foreign governments through their embassies, specifically those environment-related programs and projects. This grant or maybe an extension of Loan will require a capability building or training component for the project personnel.
In 1998, Bacolod City participated in the PRMDP-AusAID Project. Included in this project is the Public Information Campaign on Solid Waste Management with a focus on the 4 Rs. Waterways clean up was also conducted. A ten-year solid waste management plan was also completed. A Feasibility Study on the improvement of the city’s drainage system was also prepared. In its Comprehensive Land Use Plan, a proposal for a Sewage Treatment Facility was suggested by the city stakeholders to be constructed along with the city property located near the coastal area of Jalandon. Water leaving this facility will be returned to the sea as clean water. The same principle that was done in Canberra’s Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre.
In the province of Negros Occidental as well as in the Central Visayas and other parts of the country, several programs and projects designed to protect and conserve the Inland Waters had been conducted and sustained by their respective LGUs through their Environment and Management Office. But those lacking in implementation is the focus of this initiative. Something has to be done by concerned groups in the community.
Finally, there are so many ways and means where you can be a part of the solution to conserve and protect Inland Waters. Your leadership in your local community may make a difference. Why not start mobilizing your community towards doable plans and implement them with the support from the community? Your acts today will benefit not only the present generation but future generations too.
ACTEW Canberra, Australia, Website
Comprehensive Land Use Plan of Bacolod City, Philippines
Convention on Biological Diversity website
The Free Dictionary by Farlex.
Williams, W. D. (2002), Community Participation in Conserving and Managing Inland Waters. Aquatic Conservation: Mar.Freshw.Ecosyst.,12:315-326.doi:10.1002/aqc.510
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
PRMDP-AusAID – Philippine Regional Municipal Development Project-Australian Agency for International Development
Photos by Henry Libo-on
1. Bago River, Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental, Philippines.
2. Kampoosa Bog Drainage Basin, Eden Hills, Stockbridge, Massachusetts
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Updated on September 12, 2019.