what are the uses of rivers

What Are The Uses Of Rivers?

Rivers have been most important part of human life since the ancient times. In the evolution of humans, rivers and lakes played an unimaginable role. The question “What are the uses of rivers?” maybe not necessary but it is a fundamental question we need to ask ourselves so as to remind how rivers have been crucial to us in the evolution of mankind.

Water is the most important component of our body with almost 70 to 80 percent. The water has been an unasked gift to us in many ways. Nature has given us everything to live a basic life. Water is also a part of nature which is very important and without it, living is almost not possible.

We should be happy with what we have today, water is available to us in the form of rivers. Today river water is not just used for drinking, it has been used several other ways for the betterment of people’s livelihood. We discuss popular ways, how river water is being used later in this article one by one.

Need Of Rivers

Rivers are not just important for the animals and birds to live, but also it is the main source of drinking water. And their environmental value, economic value, and spiritual values touch everyone in the world.

In India, people once upon a time even worshipped rivers as their life-giving god and goddesses. The reason is whenever we look for life, we look for a drop of water first. A human can live up to 3 weeks without having food.

But water is a different story. Since most of the body like 70 to 80 percent contains water, it is impossible to survive for a week without having water. So there is nothing really wrong with worshipping Rivers as god or goddesses.

Rivers For Irrigation

what are the uses of rivers

Countries which depend mostly on agriculture use rivers for watering the crops and fields. This has been happening from the ages, Countries like India depend more on agriculture. And also India has a number of rivers which are used for agriculture.

Not just India, I should have to say, many countries are really depending on agriculture and only a few are not. Most of the remaining countries are involved in agriculture in some of the other ways. Imports and Exports have been happening between the countries through the centuries.

Most of the agricultural land on the earth is watered by the rivers. And the agriculture is the main source of income for developing countries and developed countries have smaller percentages of income from the agriculture.

There are reasons why agriculture depends on river water rather than rainfall and other sources. One of the reasons is the variety of climate, there will be extreme heat at some places and extreme cold at some places. And also excessive rainfall in some places and dryness in some other places. So there is uncertainty in climate conditions which lead to irrigation.

With the advanced Irrigation facilities and high breed seeds, we have today, we are able to produce crops at any seasons. River water Irrigation is much-needed for some thirsty plants like jute and paddy.

In summary, irrigation water from rivers is crucial to overpopulated countries like India and China.

Rivers For Electricity

what are the uses of rivers

In today’s world, we are able to generate electricity from river water by building dams across river flow. A reservoir is built to store water and water is released from that reservoir. The high flow of water makes turbine rotate which generates electricity. There is energy conversion from mechanical energy to electrical energy here.

In most countries, this is the technique that they have been using to generate electricity from river water. The highest Dam in the world is Nurek Dam in Vakhsh River in Tadzikistan, a country in central Asia. Tha Dam is 984 Feet Tall.

The highest dam in the United States is located near Oroville, California. The Oroville Dam is 754 feet tall and is more than a mile (1.6 km) wide. This dam was built-in 1968, 22 years after the Hoover Dam.

The Hoover Dam, on the Nevada-Arizona border, is over the Colorado River. It is 726 feet tall and stores 21 million acre-feet of water in the 115 miles long Lake Mead reservoir, behind the dam.

I have written how Water Energy is used as Renewable Energy and Its importance in why is Renewable energy is important for the future article.

Rivers For Fishing


Fishing is the activity of catching fish. Fishing has been happening from the ages. In ancient times fishing is also the main source of food. Seafood has been very important part of the food for non-vegetarians. Many of the world’s poorest people depend on fishing.

Fishing and Boating are very popular recreational activities to consider and fishing is also a something people usually do for commercial purposes. People who live in the areas of rivers generally do fishing and sell fishes in the market for income for living.

There are countries in the world which exports fish products to the neighboring countries. Fishing is the main form of income source followed by remaining small creatures like crabs.

People use different techniques for fishing mainly hand-gathering,  spearfishing,  netting, angling, and trapping.

Recreational and Commercial artisanal use different techniques for fishing. Some people use whatever technique they feel comfortable. Recreational fishers fish for pleasure and sport. While Commercial fishers fish for income.

Salmon, Umba River, Kola Peninsula, Russia and  Giant black marlin, Cairns, Australia are one of the best spots to go fishing around the world.

China is the largest fish producer in the world. India is the second largest fish producing countries in the world. The United States stays at 5th position in producing fishes and its products in the world.

Rivers And Habitats

what are the uses of rivers

Rivers are another world for smaller and water creatures, rivers provide unimaginable habitat and food for a lot of earth’s water creatures.

Many rare plants and trees grow by rivers. Voles, Ducks, Beavers, and otters make their homes on the banks of the rivers. Reeds and other plants similar to bulrushes grow along the banks of the rivers.

Many animals use the river for food and drink. Birds such as kingfishers eat small fish from the river. In Africa, animals such as lions and elephants go to rivers for water to drink. Animals such as bears catch fish from rivers in ice mountain areas.

Frogs also live in rivers eating different insects. Most importantly crocodiles and snakes live in rivers eating some other water organisms.

We can easily say Rivers are another world for the water animals and birds.

What Are The Uses Of Rivers In Short

Although there are many ways we can use rivers but below are some of the important ways.

  1. Drinking: Main use of river water is for drinking purposes and most of the countries use river water for drinking.
  2. Irrigation: Irrigation is the main use of rivers, water flow to rivers keeping many agricultural lands not to dry. Irrigation helping crops grow at any seasons.
  3. Hydroelectricity: Hydroelectricity is another main use of rivers in which electricity is generated and supplied to industries and homes.
  4. Fishing: Fishing is not just recreational activity, it is also a commercial thing where more people involved and earning money to live their life.
  5. Habitats: Rivers are not just used for drinking purposes, river banks are the places for many living organisms like frogs, fishes, and snakes. There are also crocodiles and beers live along the banks of the rivers.
  6. Tourism: Beauty is something people can’t deny watching and experiencing. Rivers have a lot of beauty imbibed into it. Tourism playing a big role in some of the states in India earning a lot of money.
  7. Transportation: Transportation is also a big role of rivers, traveling on boats is a way how rivers make transportation possible. 

Rivers play a major role in our day to day life, but we least realize the importance of rivers.

Top 10 Longest Rivers In The World

  1. AmazonUcayaliTamboEneApurímac (6,992 Km)
  2. NileKagera (6,853 Km)
  3. Yangtze (6,300 Km)
  4. MississippiMissouriJefferson (6,275 Km)
  5. YeniseiAngaraSelenge (5,539 Km)
  6. Yellow River (5,464 Km)
  7. ObIrtysh (5,410 Km)
  8. ParanáRío de la Plata (4,880 Km)
  9. CongoChambeshi (4,700 Km)
  10. AmurArgun (4,444 Km)

Few Facts About Rivers

  1. The Nile river used to be the longest river in the world and Amazon river is the second longest. But, after having lot debates and discussion of source of amazon river, Nile became second and amazon became first longest river in the world.
  2. The Yangtze, Indus, and Ganges are three of the most polluted rivers on the Earth.
  3. Rivers contain only 0.003% of the water on Earth.
  4. The Congo is the world’s deepest river.
  5. In India and other countries, many rivers are worshipped as gods.
  6. There are 19 countries in the world without rivers.
  7. Russia is the country with most rivers in the world.
  8. Finke river in australia is the oldest river in the world with age between 350 to 400 years.
  9. Intermittent rivers are the rivers which flow only certain times of a year.
  10. Subterranean rivers flow underneath the ground in caverns or in caves.

How To Save Rivers?

Nature has given us everything we need to live a basic life, but we spoil them trying to do different things with them. In the case of rivers, we are doing whatever it takes to go rivers extinct knowingly or unknowingly.

We need to take certain steps to save our rivers. There are awareness programmes for people to make them understand the importance of rivers. Rally For Rivers is One of the initiations taken by Sadhguru from isha foundation in India.

One of the ways we can save rivers is by cleaning the banks of the rivers first. Industries are using river water and all the industry wastage is sent into the rivers again.

Due to increase in temperatures in the world, river water is gradually decreasing year after year. we can slow down the increase of temperatures by using the renewable energy sources rather than non-renewable energy sources.

Protecting the habitat and increase in the number of habitats along the banks of the rivers also important. Planting trees also important things in protecting the rivers.

Finally, we are using river water, so we also have a responsibility to make sure our next generations have this opportunity as we have today.

Now you know “what are the uses of rivers”. Thank you.

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Sandesh Naroju

Being a nature lover, I feel it is my responsibility to show the real environmental problems that we are facing in this world to the public. I talk about Environmental problems, Nature and Life.

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