Rivers, watersheds and aquatic ecosystem are the biological engines of the planet. They are the basis of life and the livelihoods of local community. Rivers and their landscapes are complex ecosystem that can be seen as an interaction between five main components: physical habitats, flow regime, the energy or food base of the system, biological interactions and water quality. All contribute to the maintenance of the biological or ecological integrity of the system which refers to the capacity to support or maintain a balanced, integrated and adaptive biological system having the full range of elements and process expected in a regions natural habitat. (Karr, 1998)
In Gujarat there are total 185 River basins. Three major groups of rivers flow through the state in different directions. The major rivers of central and northern Gujarat include Narmada, Sabarmati, and Mahi. Rivers flowing through the Saurashtra region are Mithi, Khari, Bhadar, Shetrunji and Bhogavo. Rivers in the southern part of the state include Narmada, Tapi, Purna, Ambika, Auranga and Damanganga. Kutch has many rivers but most of them are small and dry up during summer. While Khari meets the desert, Magh and Tara empty their waters in the Gulf of Cambay.
In Gujarat Rivers are facing problems of encroachment, sand mining, large dams, deforestation and poor management practices these factors are impacting all aspects of rivers: ecological, social, cultural, religious, aesthetic, tourism related and economic. Controlling pollution and regular water quality monitoring have become indispensible tools as river basins are subjected to domestic, industrial, agricultural and wastewater.
GEC is working on bio monitoring of six rivers of Gujarat selected on the basis of six different Eco regions of Gujarat (Patel, 1997). In this project physicochemical, sedimentological, algal, planktonic, macroinvertebrate studies are done to access ecological status of Rivers in Gujarat. This will help in accessing biodiversity status, trophic status and health indicator species of these rivers for future management of these resources.
Karr, J (1998) Rivers as Sentinels: Using the Biology of Rivers to Guide Landscape Management. In River Ecology and Management: Lessons from the Pacific Coastal Ecoregion, ed. R.J. Naiman and R.E. Bilby, 502-528. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Patel P.P (1997). Eco regions of Gujarat. Published by Gujarat Ecology Commission.