The Columbia River

The Columbia River

The Columbia river runs across seven American states. It originates in Canadian Rockies and meets the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon. It is 1200 miles long and covers an area of approximately 260,000 square miles. It is a very old river and human settlements have been on the banks for more than 10,000 years.

Chief Joseph dam on Columbia

However modern engineering has taken its toll on this natural marvel. More than 400 dams across the expanse make it the river producing the most hydro-electric power in the world. But it has its own consequences. The dams have altered the ecology and that is catastrophic.

It is a snow charged river and carries 1600 million acre-feet of water every year. It has ten tributaries the Kootenay, Okanagan, Wenatchee, Spokane, Yakima, Snake, Deschutes, Willamette, Cowlitz, and Lewis rivers. The dams have contributed to the advancement of fishery. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act passed in 1986 by congress to protect the river is a step in the right direction.

One cannot deny that the river and the role it has played in economic development along its banks. Hydro Electricity generated has also accelerated the growth. Among other things the river also has many canal networks which have proved to be boon for agriculture. We must protect this all giving river from drying up though.

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