An annual list from American Rivers highlights the waterways most at risk from climate change, poor water management, pollution, and other dangers.

1 minute read

April 19, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Aerial view of Eel River running through California forest

Victoria Ditkovsky / Eel River, California

American Rivers has issued its list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2023, an annual survey of the nation’s imperiled waterways.

At the top, unsurprisingly, is the Colorado River segment running through the Grand Canyon, where “rising temperatures and severe drought driven by climate change, combined with outdated river management and overallocation of limited water supplies, put this iconic river at serious risk.”

Other threatened rivers include the Ohio River, whose fragile status was highlighted by the recent East Palestine train derailment that polluted the waterway. “This ongoing chemical disaster underscores the vulnerability of the Ohio River and need for increased safeguards and durable funding for additional and continuous monitoring.”

In Georgia, a proposed uranium mine threatens the unique Okefenokee Swap, a wetland spanning almost half a million acres. In California, the Eel River’s abundant fish and wildlife is dwindling thanks to a pair of defunct dams.

The organization recommends that the federal government designate certain rivers as federally protected water systems, strengthen wetlands protections in the Clean Water Act, and mandate the removal of decommissioned dams, among other actions. See the source article for the full list and more information on efforts to protect U.S. rivers.

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