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Dams Removal

In: Other Topics

Submitted By godfrey1812
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Water is a vital resource supporting all forms life on earth. Unfortunately, it is not evenly distributed over the world by season or location. Some parts of the world are prone to drought making water a scarce and precious commodity (the horn of Africa[i] or Murray-Darling basin[ii]…), while in other parts of the world it appears in raging torrents causing floods and loss of life and property (the tsunami in 2004[iii]…).
Throughout the history of the world, dams and reservoirs have been used successfully in collecting, storing and managing water needed to sustain civilization, with water supply as primary benefit of dams but also irrigation for agriculture (food supply), flood control, hydropower, inland navigation, recreation…
Although dams provide significant benefits to societies, their impacts are diverse and include resettlement and relocation, socioeconomic impacts, environmental ecological concerns, sedimentation issues…

The dams in the Pacific Northwest are not an exception. Indeed, these dams constitute an obstacle to the movement of species and sediment (sand, mud ...).
For animal species, particularly migratory species (salmon…), these dams block access to breeding and cause the death of many individuals, even when there are fish ladders[iv].
Moreover dams trap sediments that accumulate and concentrate the pollutants in the water retention basin (video about the polluted water). The lack of supply of new sediment downstream of the dam could cause erosion problems that affect aquatic environments, collapsing banks or nibble beaches.
The Elwha River, located in the Northwest of the US used to be full of salmons before the construction of the dams and the salmons represent a resource non negligible that must be protected for the growing world population. Although these dams produce hydropower, they should be removed because they aren’t indispensable to the production of energy of the region. That would help to restore the river’s ecosystem[v].
Besides, that could avoid some catastrophes that have already occurred in the past in different places (Malpasset dam in France)[vi].

Dams are parts to both sides, with the positive side (energy, climate) and a reverse negative (ecology, sediment). So should new dams continue to be built around the world? What must be known is that dams should be built in areas close to those in drought or areas that aren’t harmful for species.

In conclusion, throughout the history of the world, dams have played a major role in storing and managing water needed to support civilization. Today, the world is undergoing major changes in ethical values and living conditions as a result of rapid advances in technology. But water remains the vital resource to sustain civilization around the world. Sustainability of life in some regions of the world is threatened by the imbalance between the demands and available supplies of water, food and energy. Water is an important resource that must be preserved, even if important dams must be removed.

-----------------------
[i] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drought

[ii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray-Darling_basin

[iii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Indian_Ocean_earthquake_and_tsunami

[iv] http://lesbarragesalpins.e-monsite.com/pages/les-avantages-et-inconvenients-des-barrages-sur-l-environnement.html

[v] http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/08/110831-dam-removal-elwha-freshwater-science-salmon/

[vi] http://simscience.org/cracks/advanced/malpasset_problem.html

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