The Mother Goddess who purifies the faithful is far from enjoying good health herself. The Ganges is on the verge of death. Paradoxically, while she gives new spiritual energy to those who immerse themselves in her water to cleanse their sins, she risks spreading death instead.
The Niger gave its name to two of the countries it crosses — Nigeria and, of course, Niger. Now it is at risk of disappearing. The water of the river is fiercely contested for fishing because it irrigates cattle pastures, and it is also in danger from industrial sewage.
The longest river in the world has given rise to and supported ancient civilizations, the cradle of modern-day cultures. Today, heavy metals and petroleum agents are detected in its water. This is an enormous problem for the seven African countries which the Nile crosses.
This river is part of the waterways near Beijing. Several years ago, a chemical plant on its shores released toxins that caused thousands of dead fish to wash up on its banks. This must be a wake-up call for the Chinese authorities.
The Yellow River once supported the agriculture of a large part of China with its waters' extraordinary fertilizing properties, rich with sediments called loess. But today it has become a dump for paint factories.
The Yangtze was named for the proverbial (one-time) clarity of its water. Some stretches of its course have been certified by UNESCO as a cultural heritage landscape. But, today, it is threatened by hydraulic projects and industrial waste.
Seven hundred kilometers of this river marks the border between Russia and China. About ten years ago, it had the dishonour of making the news for an environmental catastrophe: a benzene spill from a petrochemical factory. And the river has kept on being polluted since.
Industrial and domestic wastewater, everything is dumped into the river. So much that some parts of its course have become dark and murky. It definitely no longer has the lustre its name suggests. Chinese authorities are devising immediate solutions.
Indochina's main river is the major site of electricity production, as more and more dams are built and hundreds of industrial complexes pour toxins into its water. The 1,200 fish species populating the Mekong are at risk.
The Indo River flows between India and Pakistan in the Kashmir region, an area of major political conflict between the two countries. The river has long been key for irrigating the land and is now severely strained by climate change and pollution.
A mass of plastic waste has accumulated in the sub-tropical ocean vortex of the Pacific Ocean holding around 80,000 tons of debris. An artificial island made up of trillions of pieces of plastic is growing year after year.