Big Dams Essay

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Big Dams In their decisions about using resources from rivers, governments are facing issues of land use, energy production and extraction of natural resources. Dams reveal the dilemmas that are faced while trying to meet numerous conflicting needs of humanity, and planning strategies such important projects must strive for ecologically sustianable systems that can support the earth's growing population. Introduction Recent years have seen the removal of a number of dams across the United States, while at the same time plans are being made for large hydro-electric dams in the developing world. These current construction projects have enormous environmental and humanitarian implications far beyond the scale of the dams that are…show more content…
For example, the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec river in Augusta Maine produced only 0.1 percent of the state's electricity. Meanwhile the dam was hindering ten species of fish from reaching ancestral spawning grounds. The effect on the fish was so extensive that a fishing industry would thrive if the dam were removed. As long as the dam was in place it would be impossible for a viable fishery to exist (Zipp, 1999). The dam has now been removed, because the economic costs to fisheries were far greater than the benefit of such a small amount of electricity. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licenses about 2 thousand privately owned hydroelectric dams. Now, hundreds of these dams are coming up for license renewal (Zipp, 1999). In order for the dams to be licensed, it must be proven that there are net benefits for keeping the dam. Often repairs must be made, and it is possible that it makes more sense to remove the dam if doing so yields long-term economic benefits. A study was done in Portland, Oregon which analyzed the economic impacts of bypassing all four dams on the Lower Snake River. It found that the region will see a long-term economic benefit, especially if the region works to enhance the positive impacts of bypassing the dams (E-Wire, 1999) Salmon Populations Saving Salmon populations from extinction is ultimately one of the principal economic benefits of removing these dams. A study released in

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