The beginning of a river is known as its source. A river runs through a channel until it usually intersects with another river or watersource, which is known as confluence, when describing the joining of a smaller river or stream with a more major river ; the term « mouth » also denotes the meeting point of a river with another body of water, typically another river or the sea.
A river is the home of an entire ecosystem, each aquatic habitat hosting numerous species of plants, fish or even birds, many of which are migratory. The fauna around rivers varies with respect to the quantity of organic matter, or the presence of trees and shrubbery on its banks.
Rivers also collect precipitation and other surface runoff from industrial and agricultural sources. As such, our rivers have become polluted and the species living in their waters are now threatened.
In an attempt to reduce water pollution, numerous countries have put in place water treatment plants to reduce « point source » pollution from populated areas. However, « non-point source » pollution in the way of industrial or agricultural runoff (fertilizers), or contaminants from common consumer products such as phosphates from household detergents continue to contaminate our world's watercourses and thereby disrupt, even profoundly alter our environment.
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