Abra River

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Abra River

The Abra River is a Philippine river found in the province of Abra in the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR). It passes through the Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur as well as its namesake province, Abra. One of the 5 largest rivers in the Philippines, the Abra River has a vast river basin which is known to be the 6th largest in the Philippines. It is known for being the habitat of a unique species, the Abra River eel. The river flows strongly during the rainy season, feeding a number of tributaries in the plains and valleys of Abra. However, during the summer, the riverbed dries up, exposing its extremely rugged and rocky gravel bottom.



The Abra River originates from Mt. Data and flows to the west down to Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, then on to Abra. The Tineg River, which originates from the highlands of Abra, joins it in Abra province. The Abra River passes through Ilocos Sur once more then flows into the South China Sea.

Environmental issues

Recent analyses of the river’s water have shown the river to possess dangerous levels of pollution, making the water unsafe for domestic use. In the past, the Abra River was rich in aquatic resources, which were tapped by the people in the three provinces it passes through. However, the river has in recent years grown far too polluted to support aquatic life and provide water safe for human use due to the effects of industrialization, population growth, urbanization, deforestation, modern agricultural practices, and mining. Chemical analyses of the water of the Abra River conducted by scientists from Saint Louis University (SLU) College of Engineering's Applied Research and Development Studies and Department of Preventive and Community Medicine from the University of the Philippines Department of Biology have shown dangerously high levels of substances that are hazardous to humans. High levels of various toxic materials, including nitrates, heavy metals, and cyanides, have been found in chemical analyses of the river water conducted from 2004 to 2007. The nitrates in all probability originated from fertilizers, domestic and industrial chemical agents, and animal waste. The heavy metals found in the water include lead, mercury, and chromium. They are present in excessive amounts, much higher than the acceptable percentage, and probably came from industrial waste. Cyanide, also found in concentrations that exceed the acceptable limits, most likely came from gold mines as it is commonly used to separate gold from ore. The toxic chemical cannot be broken down by sunlight and oxygen as it normally is, since the water also lacks dissolved oxygen. This lack, combined with the presence of toxic chemicals in the water, has rendered the river unable to support aquatic life.

Transportation and infrastructure

Few bridges span the Abra River. The river may be crossed by a motorized ferry, which may be taken from certain localities in Abra from morning until midnight. Large ferries which can carry as many as 2 vehicles at a time ply the route from the provincial capital Bangued.




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