Environmental impacts of human action in watercourses
J. S. Antunes do Carmo
IMAR/MARE – University of Coimbra, FCTUC – Polo II, Department of Civil Engineering, 3030-788 Coimbra, Portugal
Received: 14 Aug 2014 – Accepted for review: 14 Sep 2014 – Discussion started: 14 Oct 2014
Abstract. The economic, social and environmental conditions of various European river basins and estuarine systems have changed dramatically in the last decades as a consequence of anthropogenic effects, and they will go on changing in the years to come due to increasing human pressure. Particularly in Portugal, various river-estuary systems have undergone several human interventions, notably engineering works to restore considerable stretches of channels and river banks.
Whenever the characteristics and natural evolution of a river are altered as a result of human intervention there is an environmental impact. In other words, it is understood that differences can be observed between any present situation that is the result of the evolution of an environment after human intervention, and the natural situation that would have existed if this type of intervention had not taken place, taking into account our previous knowledge of the situation.
A thorough understanding of the fluvial processes and new strategies are needed to develop a multifunctional use structure, which must take into account the many-faceted aims of sustainable development.
This paper provides a brief description of the nature and distribution of the direct and indirect types of impact arising out of building and operating large dams, as well as some specific points that should be taken into consideration. It also reflects on the way in which the problem of extracting inert material from water environments has been dealt with in Portugal and offers a brief technical contribution which, although qualitative, provides a basic record and explanation of the consequences of significant interventions in water environments that have not been properly assessed or have not taken other mitigating circumstances into consideration.
Antunes do Carmo, J. S.: Environmental impacts of human action in watercourses, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 2, 6499-6530, doi:10.5194/nhessd-2-6499-2014, 2014.