Seventy-five percent of our planet is covered with water. Life on earth would be impossible without it. We drink it, grow crops with it, shovel it in the wintertime, and we swim in it in the summertime. But like each of us, not all bodies of water are equal or safe. Here are a few bodies of water you might want to avoid.

Tualatin River, Oregon

This river is packed with deadly and very toxic blue-green algae. Most of us think of algae as a possible food, a medicinal healer, or just a pain in our fish tanks. But in this particular river it has grown fast and deadly. Several puppies a year die from drinking the water while being walked near shore.

Clean water folks are trying to correct this problem by dumping fresh water from other places into the river as often as possible. But for the most part this will only be a temporary solution. Algae, like your in-laws, are tough to get a handle on.

Lake Karachay, Russia

You might have had someone tell you to “Go jump in the lake.” Well not only do you not want to jump in this lake you don’t even want to walk along the shore. Since the 1990’s this lake has been a dumping ground for nuclear waste. It’s the most radioactive body of water on earth. Standing on the shore for an hour or so would bombard your body with enough radiation to kill you.

Russian officials are dumping huge levels of concrete into the lake hoping that will soak up some of the dangerous substances. Tests on other waters in the area show little or no radiation so it would seems that the concrete is working. But it will be several centuries before any college keggers will be planned on the shores of this particular lake.

Citarum River, Java, West Indonesia

Nature’s worst enemy is of course — us. More than 500 factories are located along the shores of this river and it’s become the trash receptacle of choice. In fact there is so much trash, shore to shore, that the water is barely visible and might even support body weight if you wanted to walk across it. If it’s not the most trash-polluted river on the planet, it’s easily in the top five.

The Potomac River, Washington, DC

The Potomac River is almost a mile deep with very dangerous currents from waterfalls and rapids. The most dangerous currents are not on the top of the water but beneath the surface. If you are sucked down into the bowels of the Potomac your chances of surfacing are remote.

The Potomac takes an average of six lives each year and many more escape death without even being aware of it. Signs along the Potomac leave no doubt about the dangers of this body of water. They simply say, “If you enter the river, you will die.”

Some Final Thoughts

Water is a great thing. It’s fun, healthy, deadly, all at the same time. Often people will say that anything can kill you. How many times have you looked at a body of water, appreciating its beauty and majesty never giving a second thought about any dangers it might hold? Our own Montana bodies of water have their own risks yet we are always ready to test our resolve against the will of Mother Nature. Most of the time there’s a positive outcome.

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