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The Importance Of Rivers Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 5411 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Rivers have been extremely helpful to men in all parts of the earth from the very early times. They provide water to slake the thirst of men, to fertilize their lands, to provide a means of communication for the goods that transport from place to place, provides food, energy, recreation, and of course water for irrigation and for drinking. it is an essential element and the single most important commodity in our lives. Without river, life wouldn’t be possible (www.language123.blogspot.com).         

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Globally, according to a new study from the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate, due to global climate change, Many rivers around the world are losing water… Large populations depend on some of the rivers for everything from agriculture to clean drinking resources, including the Yellow River, the Ganges, the Niger, and the Colorado, which have all shown significant declines (Hans,HYPERLINK “http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0422-hance_rivers.html” 2009).

Water, the lifeblood of nations is being squandered. In California, citizens go on with their lives and life styles and waste precious water on precious projects which support industry, their recreational and domestic needs. Even water to the bread basket of the nation, the vast Imperial Valley area where vegetables and fruits are grown for the nation, water is being rationed so that ten million toilets can be flushed daily, more lawns watered, a million cars cleaned in car washes. We are massive consumers of earth’s resources and waste water outrageously. But it takes an outrageous amount of water to keep an economy vibrant, to restart the economic engine so that we move out of a recession (Bergsma, 2009).

In the Philippines, particularly in Pasig River is considered as one of the Worlds’s contaminated rivers now. The United Nations Development Programme article entitled “Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and global water crisis; said that the pollution load in Pasig river today accounts for seventy percent of human waste. But that was already old information. The department of Environment and natural resources 2003 pollution report said that the Pasig River was already dead, in nature. Sad to say, the DENR said that the conjugal waste and industrial waste in the river were still being deserted everyday. The Pasig river, before the years of large scale growth was compared some time ago to the Grand Canal of Venice. According to the United Nations Development Programme report, “Problem is the mud management and discarding facilities are unusual” which and might show the way into the river to the haphazard waste dumping, having an unwell effects on health (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2006).

In Davao City, Rosendo Almonte, manager of the Environment and Watershed Protection Division of the Davao City Water District, said that the use of commercial pesticides and fertilizers in the plantation had affected the watershed areas in the northern part of the city that slowly contaminated our water resources. 20 years from now, our watershed and rivers will be polluted. In Gravahan River, Matina, Davao City, the Riverside are of many garbage waste. You can see human waste floating on the river children swimming in the river as well. Thus, this made the researchers study the said River.

Literature Review

This segment discusses the related literatures which encompass in this study which include the views the different authors consequently. The subsequent are literatures gathered from books, journals, internet, and other studies on the subject of this problem. Likewise, this section will flash to present approaches of the research process. These coupled with the author’s experiences and other tribulations specific to this applied issue. These are the follows:

Quality of Water. Water is vital for life. We may go for days or even weeks with no food, however death will happened following a few days with no water. It acts as a solvent medium for nutrients, toxins, and waste products, and works to transport nutrients to and from the cells via blood stream. It is a solution part in knowing the quality of our lives. Nowadays, citizens are concerned with the quality of the water they drink. Before it reaches the consumer’s tap, it comes into contact with many different substances, including organic and inorganic matter, chemicals, and other contaminants. Water is important to the technicalities of the human body. Without it, the human body cannot work. In fact, all the cell and organ functions made up in our entire anatomy and physiology depend on water for their functioning. Water also helps in preventing some diseases (Margaret, 2009).

Physico-chemical Properties. According to Helen Anderson and David Cummings, Melbourne, TDS is recorded in milligrams of dissolved solid in one liter of water (mg/L). Parts per million (ppm) is equivalent to mg/L but it is not a favored unit. EC measures the charge carrying ability of liquid in a measuring cell of specific dimensions. It is necessary to clearly define the units of both conductance and length when talking ECs. To say water sample is 2000 EC, is like saying a table is 2000 long, without specifying millimeters, centimeters or meters. The standard EC unit used by the Victorian Salinity Program and the Murray Darling Basin Commission is micro Siemens per centimeter (µS/cm) at 25oC. You will however see other units and need to be aware of the relationships between them. µS/cm relates to other units as 1000 µS/cm = 1 deciSiemen/metre (dS/m); 1000 µS/cm = 1; milliSiemen/centimetre (mS/cm) and 10 µS/cm = 1 milliSiemen/metre (mS/m), (Department of Primary Industry March, 2010).

According to Sherlie Sharp, there is no “normal” pH that applies to all fish. Because fish originate in ponds, rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans that have different pH levels, their needs are different. Saltwater fish prefer an alkaline pH of 8.0 or above. Freshwater fish thrive in a range lower than that, somewhere between 5.5 and 7.5, depending on the specific species. Changes in the pH, especially sudden changes, can prove harmful or even fatal to fish . As the pH rises it increases the toxicity of chemicals such as ammonia. It is an important factor to monitor during the break-in of a new tank. pH changes are particularly hard on young and sick fish. In a number of species of fish, breeding occurs only within a specific pH range (Sharp, 2006).

Dissolved oxygen analysis measures the amount of gaseous oxygen (O2) dissolved in an aqueous solution. Dissolved oxygen is one of the most important parameters in aquatic systems. This gas is an absolute requirement for the metabolism of aerobic organisms and also influences inorganic chemical reactions. Therefore, knowledge of the solubility and dynamics of oxygen distribution is essential to interpreting both biological and chemical processes within water bodies. Oxygen gets into water by diffusion from the surrounding air, by aeration (rapid movement) and as a waste product of photosynthesis. The amount of dissolved oxygen gas is highly dependent on temperature. Atmospheric pressure also has an effect on dissolved oxygen. The amount of oxygen (or any gas) that can dissolve in pure water (saturation point) is inversely proportional to the temperature of water. The warmer the water, the less dissolved oxygen (www.kywater.org). Dissolved Oxygen Dissolved Oxygen’s presence in water is a positive sign, but low levels are a sign of severe pollution. Water with consistently high levels of dissolved oxygen is considered healthy and capable of supporting many different kinds of aquatic organisms. In order for a water body to sustain warm water fish like bluegill, bass, and pike, the dissolved oxygen level must be at least 4 milligrams per liter (mg/L). Dissolved Oxygen in water generally comes from one of two sources. Most Dissolved Oxygen comes from the atmosphere as waves and tumbling water mix atmospheric oxygen. Another source of Dissolved Oxygen comes from plants as they go through photosynthesis. Less than 4 mg/L is bad; 4 – 10 mg/L is good, and more than 10 mg/L means Excellent, (www.sciotoswcd.org). Health Risks. According to DOH, River and lake water may contain microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses or parasites that can make a person sick if they enter the body. Since most swimmers are exposed to these organisms by swallowing the water, people are less likely to get sick if they wade or swim without putting their head under water or avoid swallowing river water (DOH, June 2009).

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that in the United States 900,000 people becomes ill each year from waterborne infections. Globally, it is estimated that waterborne diseases are responsible for over 2 million deaths each year, mostly among children under the age of 5. This is the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing every day and represents about 15% of all child death in this age group. Examples of such disease are Typhoid fever and cholera, caused by bacteria that are shed only in human feces. About 100 years ago, the journal of the America medical association reported that the Typhoid fever mortality rate in Chicago had declined from 159.7 per 100,000 people in 1891 to 31.4 per 100,000 in 1894. More than one billion people worldwide do not have access to clean freshwater. More than two billion do not have adequate sanitation services and the annual death toll from water-borne diseases is estimated at more than five million (Manila Bulletin, 2006).

The cure for all ill just might have been here all along. Plain old water has proven such an effective solution to various health concerns (The Philippine Star, 2005). A polluted body of water such as polluted lake or river presents a totally different picture. Water may be the vehicle for transfer of a broad variety of microbial diseases, including bacterial diseases such, cholera and shigellosis. Waterborne epidemics of these diseases, however, are rare due to continual surveillance. Many waterborne illnesses are due to less familiar bacteria such as species of Yersinia and Campylobacter, and toxins-producing strains of Escherichia Coli. An emerging pathogen associated with contaminated water is Vibrio vulnificus, a gram negative bacterium that can cause serious illness in persons with pre-existing liver disease or compromised immune systems. Viral diseases transmitted by water include hepatitis A, gastroenteritis due to Coxsackie or Norwalk virus, and in rare instances, polio. These diseases are generally related to fecal contamination of water. Many protozoa form cysts that survive for long periods in water.

Human Activities. Pollution caused by household garbage, the diminishing margin of safety between septic tanks and deep wells and pipes for potable water cause contamination to groundwater and exposed everyone to water-borne diseases. There are three main sources of water pollution here in the Philippines – domestic/residential (48 percent), agricultural (37 percent) and industrial (15 percent) (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2007).

Nearly everybody in the world lives in a river basin and everybody have contribution to make to prevent further damage to the environment. The threats facing river basins are varied and interlinked and require holistic policies rather than efforts that target just one aspect but can end up being counter productive. He said if government become concerned about climate change and reducing water run-off, they will possibly build more dams to store more water which may result in more waters being extracted from the rivers and will build up ecological problems (French, 2007)

At the local front, country’s scarcity of water resource is mainly brought about by deteriorating quality of water resulting from indiscriminate economic activities in the water shed results to sedimentation and siltation of the water resources. Another thing is the disposal of solid and liquid wastes in to our rivers, lakes, canals, streams, marshes and swamps eventually contaminate ground water aquifers and coastal wastes (Manila Bulletin, 2009).

Citizen monitors are the first and sometimes the only line of defense for our water ways. There’s often nobody else there looking (Sunstar Davao, 2007).  In the Philippines, more and more people are dumping their garbage into the seas and rivers; thus, poisoning our marine life. Some species are over fished and are therefore forced to the brink of extinction. Today, man is the greatest threat to marine biodiversity. Until a few hundred years ago, humans had a relatively small effect on the environment that damaged, however, with the rapid increase in population, as well as the onset of the technological revolution (Manila Bulletin, 2007). This is now a warning, that our surface waters are already highly contaminated and there is a high possibility that some of there waters may have already percolated and contaminated our waters (Today, 2008).

Human activities commonly affect the distribution, quantity, and chemical quality of water resources. The range in human activities that affect the interaction of ground water and surface water is broad (Publishing Service Center, 2008).

According to Erinn Soule, pollution in the ocean is a major problem that is affecting the ocean and the rest of the Earth, too. Pollution in the ocean directly affects ocean organisms and indirectly affects human health and resources. Oil spills, toxic wastes, and dumping of other harmful materials are all major sources of pollution in the ocean. People should learn more about these because if people know more about pollution in the ocean, then they will know more about how to stop pollution,(www.helium.com).

Garbage dumping is the dumping of harmful materials into the ocean like human waste, ground-up garbage, water from bathing, and plastics. Most of the waste that has been dumped into the ocean in the early 1990’s is still there today. One main cause of garbage dumping occurs when sewage pipes share their space with storm water drains. Rainfall causes the sewage pipes to overflow and the sewage waste mixes with the storm water drain, which flows into another water source such as a lake or river. After that, the garbage pollutes the ocean, kills plants and animals in the water (for example, the plastic rings that are around pop cans can get around an animal’s neck, causing it to suffocate), and makes the water dirty(library.thinkquest.org).

Whenever someone takes their boat onto the water for a ride, it is creating pollution that can be very harmful to the sea life. Boating pollution is the pollution that comes from the boat’s engine when it is running, and it pollutes the water, killing animals with the chemicals in the exhaust from the engine. The engine gives off excess gasoline, which pollutes the waters and ends up killing the animals,(library.thinkquest.org).

Theoretical Framework

This study is anchored on Nightingale’s theory which gives importance on environment’s reflected predominant concern when a human activity was a chief health problem. Nightingale supposed that disease was a reparative course and that the exploitation of the patient’s surroundings–ventilation, warmth, light, diet, cleanliness and noise would put in to the reparative process and the health of the patient. She did not subscribe to the germ theory, however, asserting that dirt, sewer gases, and other environmental contagion produced illness (Tomey, 2002).

Nightingale consistently stressed health promotion and disease prevention. The foundations for good health were; housing, clean water and air, good nutrition and good child care. Nightingale described that putting individual in the best condition for nature to act upon them, emphasizing touch and kindness along with the healing properties of the physical environment. It was Nightingale that made the theory explaining the relationship of the health condition with the environment, stating that poor environment conditions are bad for health and good environmental condition reduces disease, (Allender, 2001). And for Neuman’s Health Care System Model, people are seen as an open system that constantly and reciprocally interact with the environment and that stressors can originate from internal or external environment. Dorothea Orem’s Self-care Deficit Theory focused on the concepts of self care that are learned, and are goal-oriented actions to preserve and promote life, health, and well-being. She described that the people needing nursing care are those who lacks ability to self-care.

Health Belief model by Becker and Rosenstack assumes that beliefs are important contributors to health-seeking behaviors. These include four beliefs that should combine to predict health-related behaviors. The beliefs mentioned were the perceived susceptibility of the disease or disability, perceived severity of the disease, perceived benefits of health-enhancing behaviors and perceived barriers to health enhancing behaviors, including financial costs. The nurse has a big role in helping the client interact with the environment in the growth and development stage. Being healthy is a lived, constantly changing experience. The client’s health evolves during interaction with the environment, which may put them at risk or lead to good health. Another is Dorothy Johnson’s theory (2001) that states that “The goal of Nursing is reduce stress so that the client can move more easily through recovery processes. According to Johnson, the nurse assesses the client’s needs in categories of behavior, called behavioral subsystems. Under normal conditions the client functions effectively in the environment. When stress disrupts normal adaptation, however, behavior becomes erratic and less purposeful. The nurse identifies this inability to adapt and provides nursing care to resolve problems in meeting the client’s needs (Potter Perry, 2001). This means that there are indications from the client that will demonstrate reactions to the disruptions of their behavior and that the nurse can identify these oddities or changes, providing nursing care and helping the client overcome these changes. If residents near the river show changes such as diseases or their activities in daily living are disrupted, then it is an indication that nursing processes be used to help the residents.

Conceptual framework

This diagram shows that human activities is independent in heath in terms of gastrointestinal and skin diseases and is independent in the physico-chemical properties of the river such as salinity, water ph, oxygen content which means that daily activities of every individual especially those live along the riverside will greatly affect the health status of individual and the physico-chemical properties of the river. River is important to those people especially who get their foods from the river in order to survive. It serves as a livelihood especially to those individual who lived near the river. But due to the activities of human such as waste waste and garbage disposa, swimming and fishing, properties of river such as salinity, water ph, oxygen content will be affected which may alter the health of each individual as well.

Conceptual Model

Independent Variables Dependent Variables

Physico-chemical Properties of Freshwater


Water pH

Dissolved Oxygen

Profile of Respondents

Number of Family members

Moderator Variables

Statement of the Problem

1. What is the profile of the respondents along Gravahan River Matina, Davao City, in terms of number of family members?

2.) What is the physico-chemical properties of water along Gravahan River, Matina, Davao City in terms of: 2.1 Salinity; 2.2 Water pH; and 2.3 Oxygen content?

3.) What is the extent of Incidence of water-related diseases (An associated health risk) of respondents Along Gravahan River, Matina, Davao City, in terms of: 3.1 Gastrointestinal; and b 3.2 Skin?

4. What is the extent of perceived health risks of human activities of the respondents along Gravahan River, Matina, Davao City, in terms of human activities ?

5.) Is there a significant difference in the perceived health risks of human activities and physico-chemical properties on profile of family members along Gravahan River, Matina, Davao City when analyzed in terms of the number of family members?

Ho1 There is no significant difference in the perceived health risks of human activities along Gravahan River, Matina, Davao City when analyzed in terms of the number of family members.

Definition of terms

Gastrointestinal disease

Refers to ulcerative disorders of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Stomach acids and some enzymes can damage the lining of the G.I. tract if natural protective factors are not functioning normally.

Skin disease

A disease which involves the skin.


The saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water.


Indicates the sample’s acidity, but is actually a measurement of the potential activity of hydrogen ions (H+) in the sample.

Oxygen saturation or dissolved oxygen (DO)

A relative measure of the amount oxygen that is dissolved or carried in a given medium.



This chapter presents a thorough discussion of the research methods and procedures used. It also includes the respondents, research instruments, data gathering procedures,and data analysis.

Research Design This study utilized the descriptive design method and experimental methods which described the nature and characteristics of a certain phenomenon under investigation (Asperos, 2005). Furthermore, it was designed to provide information on households, through relative randomly selected samples that ensured proper representation of the different areas throughout the perimeter of the area under study and be conducted as well in order to determine the physico-chemical content of the river along Barangay Gravahan, Matina, Davao City.

In this study, the sampling and analysis methods of data gathering were utilized as well and measured distances along the river bank. First, this study used experimental method. An experimental design is a blueprint of the procedure that enabled the researchers to test the hypothesis by reaching valid conclusions about relationships between independent and dependent variables. It referred to the conceptual framework within which the experiment was conducted. Next was the descriptive design method. Descriptive research design was a valid method for researching specific subjects and as a precursor to more quantitative studies.

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Scope and Limitations This study was concerned on the health risks of human activities as well as assessing the human activities practiced by the household of Barangay Gravahan, Matina Davao City through a primary source of information. We conduct this study, the experimentation method last February 01,2010. Purposely, we have chosen the head of the family of the households as the respondents in this study. It also aimed to identify management practiced by these households in preventing such diseases that individuals might get into the river. It dealt with the water sampling data and analyses regarding the physico-chemical properties of the river. It served also as a focal point of reference in the future when other tests will be done. The area where the samples were taken is located where there is a high concentration of human residents, engaged in different kinds of livelihood or activities that the researchers also documented. The prohibitive cost of water analysis limited the number of water samples tested. They planned to take samples in three (3) connected 15-meter long segments. The quality of water was also limited since the plan to take the water samples was only in the morning. But the researchers hoped to get a bird’s eye view on of the overall physico-chemical properties data results when the river content was really reflective of the wastes from both man and factories that use the river as a means of sewage, livelihood and source. A round the clock sampling at regular intervals would be more accurate.


There were only forty (40) residents in Gravahan, Matina, Davao City who stood as respondents of this research. The heads of the families of the households were chosen as the respondents in this study. They live in the immediate area and are the ones greatly affected by whatever is in the river, whether bacteria or chemicals. The river serves as an alternate route for the residents to reach other places. They were randomly selected to represent a certain area where differences of the variables on study were observable.

Instrumentation The data gathered through a primary source. Primary source is a term used in a number of disciplines to describe source material that is closest to the person, information, period, or idea being studied. The data regarding the human activities were taken from the profile data at the health desk of Barangay Gravahan, Matina, Davao City. The questionnaire was utilized to gather the data on of human activities practiced by the households. This questionnaire had two parts. The first part included the informed consent and the respondent’s profile such as the name, age and household size; it included the activities they practiced as well. Second part included a questionnaire that was for the health risks they had experienced. The respondents completed the instrument themselves in a paper and pencil/ball pen format. The purpose of using questionnaire with such degree of structure was to ensure comparability of response to facilitate analysis. The items were enumerated and the respondents ticked and checked the corresponding item that is true to them.

The criteria that were used in the checklist were the following:






Indicates that the activity is observed or experienced at all times



Indicates that the activity is observed or experienced in a frequent manner



Indicates that the activity is observed or experienced now and then with short interval of time.



Indicates that the activity is observed or experienced once in a while with long interval of time.



Indicates that the activity is never observed or never experienced.

In physico-chemical properties test, water sampling from the area does not need very sophisticated materials or instruments. A stick or pole will be staked into the ground along the riverbank and will serve as a focal point where distances will be measured along the banks and into the river. At measured distances to the river (5-10 meters), water will be taken from the river, either from the river surface or at certain depths. The containers will then be covered or capped, masking taped, and labeled to identify. At measured distances along the river bank from the point of origin, water will be taken again from the river, capped, taped, and labeled. After the required number of samples has been taken, these will be forwarded to the selected facility where the analysis will be done, as soon as possible.

Construction, validation, and distribution of the questionnaires. The questionnaires were personally distributed to the respondents. Prior to the distribution, the respondents were given proper orientation of the objectives of the study. The respondents were given enough time to answer the questionnaire and to raise clarification at the same time. Then, the questionnaire is retrieved.

Seeking permission to conduct a study. The researchers wrote a letter to the Dean of the College of Nursing, asking permission to conduct a study protective purpose. Upon approval of the request, another letter was addressed to the Barangay Captain of Barangay Gravahan, Matina, for the acquisition of data regarding the human activities practiced in the community and for the distribution of the questionnaires to the residents.

Data Gathering Procedures The data were necessary for accomplishing the study’s objectives and were collected by means of primary source of data. In this study, the researchers distributed first the questionnaires to the respondents personally. Then after, the researchers proceeded to the subject river for the water sampling. The researchers also documented the properties of water along the river with the use of imaging devices such as camera or cell phones.



This chapter presents the answers of the different sub-problems raised in this study. They are as follows: (1) The profile of the respondents along Gravahan river Matina, Davao City in terms of number of family members. (2) The physico-chemical properties of water along Gravahan river Matina, Davao City in terms of Salinity, Water pH, and Oxygen Content. (3) The extent of Incidences of Water Related Diseases (An associated health risk) of respondents Along Gravahan river, Matina, Davao City in terms of gastrointestinala and skin. (4) the extent of perceived health risks of human activity of the respondents along Gravahan River Matina, Davao City in terms of Human Activities. (5) the significant difference in the perceived health risks of human activities along Gravahan River, Matina, Davao City analyzed in terms of their number of family members.

The profile of the respondents along Gravahan River Matina, Davao City in terms of number of family members

The profile of the respondents along Gravahan river, Matina, Davao City in terms

of number of family members on page thirty five (36) shows that the family member of

three, four and six is 18% which has a frequency of 9. The number of family members of

five on the said area is 12%, having a frequency of six. Another 10%, frequency of 5, has

family members of seven. The family members of eight and nine has 2%, having a

frequency of 2.

Number of persons living together in one house and it is a variable of great interest to

those who study children. Family size is an important determinant of whether a family or

individual is poor because the official poverty measure incorporates family size. The size

of the family depends on; family income cost of children, wages, government transfers,

and preferences. Large family size will consequently result in families’ inability to

function well in terms of childcare and ability to adequately educate children in the


According to Debbie Madden-Derdich, Empirical studies consistently have found

a negative association between family size and children’s mental ability, intelligence, and

educational attainment. Although larger families include positive characteristics such as

increased family socialization and father involvement, increased family size also is

associated with more authoritarian parenting, which, in turn, can negatively impact a

child’s self-esteem, self- differentiation, and ego identity (Derdich, 2008).

Large family size can be an important contributor to household poverty and are at

significantly risk in living at poverty than are children in small family (Orbeta, 2005).

Based on the result we gathered, majority has a short number of family members and

might not affect the status of the river in terms of physico chemical properties


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