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Old 04-09-2013, 03:46 PM
Location: SGV, CA
808 posts, read 1,878,694 times
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I have a geo-political question for you guys. Generally speaking, how are rivers which serve as a border between two countries managed? I'm talking about rivers like the Rio Grande, Rhine, Jordan, Mekong, etc. A river is a very valuable resource for fishing, farming, tourism, transportation, etc., and it isn't easy to maintain a strict line of separation. If one country dumps a lot of pollution or wants to make a dam it's going to affect the other country too. Do countries manage the river jointly, split the river along an imaginary line down the middle, or something else?
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:47 PM
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,544 posts, read 56,060,466 times
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Interesting question. I think in most cases the border is right down the middle of the river. I would think generally the two bordering nations have some agreement where they both can use the river for certain purposes. Your point about a country dumping pollution of building a dam is pertinent in the lower Mekong, where the Laotian government plans on building a hydro-electric dam or even several dams on the Mekong which will greatly affect the lower reaches of the Mekong in Cambodia and Vietnam.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:50 PM
Location: Victoria TX
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Like the Mississippi between US states, many rivers have changed course since they were first established as the international border. When that happens, the border usually stays in the same place, the the river, at some points, travels entirely within a country. I was on a boat going from Kuwait to Iran, which went up the Euphrates to the Iranian port. Iraqi officials boarded the boat and examined papers, where the river was entirely within Iraq.
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:03 PM
Location: Vermont, New England
75 posts, read 120,147 times
Reputation: 135
Interesting question; it depends on the relations and claims staked by both countries. I live right near the St. Lawrence river, which forms the natural border between New York State and Ontario, Canada. As you might know, the St. Lawrence is a vital transport link between Europe and North America.

In the Thousand Island region, the islands are divvied up between countries in a seemingly random fashion. One tiny island could be a hundred yards south of another tiny island, and yet they can belong to two separate countries. In this region, the border is very windy and crooked, you are expected to keep to 'your countries' half' of the river. As long as you don't land on another nations' island, you're OK. Also, fishermen are expected to keep maps and only fish from the waters inside their respective border. You can get busted for poaching if you're not paying attention to geography. It's not like there are buoys.

There is a St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation which deals with relations between the countries and tries to get both to agree on how to properly run operations on the river. Since the US and Canada are best friends, there are rarely serious problems with this!

I live right on Lake Champlain, which again has very jagged borders. Vermont owns the vast majority of the islands (some of which contain thousands of residents) even though they are geographically closer to the New York shore. The NY islands are very tiny and uninhabited. Not that I am complaining, this is not an issue of controversy for us.

Part of Lake Champlain juts into Québec, Canada, and interestingly enough, they do have buoys marking the borders telling you to report to customs for inspection, just as if you had driven across the border. Moreover, on the US side, they set up a fairly elaborate customs checkpoint near a marina and they have all the same tools and regulations as any other border crossing. Many pleasure craft cross the border there.

As far as environmental considerations, even though NY Vermont and Québec usually chip in to combat invasive species, there remains far to be done to organize anti-pollution initiatives. Sometimes our local politicians accuse eachother of ruining the lake. Thanks to industrial runoff and agricultural pollution, both sides are guilty. It's a pretty filthy lake, actually.

I'm more than happy to answer any questions you might have about these two international waterways.
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