Tag Archives: Dams

World’s Tallest Dam Approved by Chinese Environmental Officials

dam-construction-china
Chinese companies and Chinese banks are now the biggest builders and financiers of global dam building. Chinese banks and companies are involved in some 307 dams in 74 different countries, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia, including Kamchay Dam (Cambodia), Bakun Dam (Sarawak, Malaysia), Myitsone Dam (Burma) and Merowe Dam (Sudan). Captions and Photo source: ©© International Rivers

Excerpts;

Chinese environmental authorities have approved construction plans for what could become the world’s tallest dam, while acknowledging that the project would affect endangered plants and rare fish species…

Read Full Article, Guardian UK

China’s Global Role in Dam Building, International Rivers

The Problems With Dams

Controversial dam projects – in pictures, The Guardian UK
A look is taken at some of the world’s most contentious dam projects, from the Three Gorges in China to Brazil’s Belo Monte dam.

Elwha Dam Removal: A New Life When The Dam Breaks

Relief for a Parched Delta

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Colorado River into the Gulf of California, Sea of Cortez.
These two pictures illustrate the extremes of water flow in the Colorado River since measurements began in the late 1800s. The 1985 image (Left) was taken in the midst of record high flow, while the 2007 image (Right) shows the driest period. Excessive rains or severe droughts directly change the amount of water available in the Colorado River Basin, and so does the increasing pressure of human needs throughout the western states. The river, which has its headwaters in the snowmelt of the Rocky Mountains, is 1,400 miles (2,253 kilometers) long and empties into the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez. Captions and Images source: U.S. Department of the Interior / USGS and NASA.

Excerpts;

Germán Muñoz looked out at the river before him and talked about the days when dolphins swam here, 60 miles from the sea…

Thanks to dams that throttled the Colorado and diverted its water to fuel the rise of the American West, the river has effectively ended at the Mexican border. The Colorado delta, once a lush network of freshwater and marine wetlands and meandering river channels and a haven for fish, migrating birds and other wildlife, is largely a parched wasteland…

Read Full Article, The New York Times


Colorado River Delta, Baja California: Earth Observatory / NASA

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By NASA,

The Colorado River is the largest watershed in the southwestern US, emptying into the Salton Trough before reaching the Sea of Cortez. Over the past 2-3 million years, river sediments built a delta that extends from the US-Mexico border for a distance of 87 miles (140 km). However, today the Colorado River delta is undergoing significant erosion and diminishing in size due to the lack of sediment replenishment from upstream sources.

This image highlights the generally arid setting of the Colorada River delta estuary at its terminus and at low tide.

The Desierto de Altar occupies the right portion of the image. The extensive white salt flats to the southeast of the Cienega (wetland) de Santa Clara are clearly visible. This brackish wetland is a major stopover point for Pacific shore bird migrations and is maintained by groundwater pumped from the southwestern USA.The channel extending from the large island in the center of the image (Isla Montague) to the northwest is an inlet from the Gulf of California which formed after the Colorado River receded due to impoundment of water by Hoover (1935) and Glen Canyon (1964) dams.

It crosses floodplain sediments (gray to dark brown) left by the original river. Gray-brown linear streaks extending southeast from Isla Montague into the Gulf are floodplain sediments mobilized by tidal surges and wave action rather than fluvial processes. Dark green areas bordering the channel, shoreline, and Isla Montague are riparian and estuarine vegetation.

Prior to impoundment of water from upstream dams the delta provided habitat for a wide variety of species including shrimp, corvina fish, and vaquita porpoise. Replacement of water into the delta from groundwater and upstream releases have helped to revive some of the preexisting habitat. This reinvigorated habitat also supports a local ecotourism industry within the delta region. Continuing drought conditions affecting the southwestern USA may decrease water delivery to the delta with significant impacts on both the ecologic and economic health of the region.

Amazon Tribe Threatens To Declare War Amid Row Over Brazilian Dam Project

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Nearly 1500 people used Rio’s Flamengo Beach as a canvas on June 19, 2012. Their bodies formed the lines of an enormous image promoting the importance of free-running rivers, truly clean energy sources like solar power and including indigenous knowledge as part of the solution to climate issues. The activity was led by Brazil’s many indigenous peoples organized under the umbrella of the Articulation of Brazilian Indigenous Peoples. Captions: © Caroline Bennett. Photo source: ©© International Rivers

Excerpts;

Amazonian tribe leaders hit out at ‘betrayal’ after Brazilian government pushes on with dam construction without community’s consent…

Read Full Article, Guardian UK

Yale 360 Video: Belo Monte Dam Controversy
The Belo Monte dam, now under construction in the Amazon, is heralded as an abundant power source for Brazil’s burgeoning economy. But critics contend the project’s benefits are outweighed by the environmental and social costs, the flooding of 260 square miles of rainforest and the displacement of more than 20,000 people. A Yale Environment 360 video report, explores both sides of this controversial project.

Tracking Sediments’ Fate In Largest-Ever Dam Removal

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Elwha river estuary. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Salmon are beginning to swim up the Elwha River for the first time in more than a century. But University of Washington marine geologists are watching what’s beginning to flow downstream, sediments from the largest dam-removal project ever undertaken.

The 108-foot Elwha Dam was built in 1910, and after decades of debate it was finally dismantled last year. Roughly a third of the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam still stands, holding back a mountain of silt, sand and gravel…

Read Full Article, University Of Washington

Largest US Dam Removal Releases Huge Amount Of Sediment, Yale Environment 360
Scientists tracking the aftermath of the largest dam removal in U.S. history say the dismantling of a dam in northwestern Washington state has unleashed about 34 million cubic yards of sediment and debris that built up for more than a century.

Sediment Starts to Really Hit The Elwha, The Seattle Times
Long expected, the heavy loads of sediment created by demolition of Glines Canyon Dam and Elwha Dam are starting to hit the Elwha river.

On The Elwha, A New Life When The Dam Breaks, The Smithsonian
Nobody figured the largest dam removal project ever attempted in the U.S. was going to be easy, or fast.The nation’s largest and most ambitious dam removal will begin this month, when workers start demolishing two antique dams on Washington state’s Elwha River…

Elwha, The Grand Experiment
Stanford University’s School of Humanities and Sciences, and their Knight Risser Prize for Western Journalism, has honored Lynda Mapes of the Seattle Times with a Special Citation for the report, “Elwha: The Grand Experiment”, which focusses on the largest dam removal project in the world currently underway in Washington State.

Coastal Erosion Induced by Human Activities: A Northwest Bohai Sea Case Study

dam-construction-china
Chinese companies and Chinese banks are now the biggest builders and financiers of global dam building. Chinese banks and companies are involved in some 307 dams in 74 different countries, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia, including Kamchay Dam (Cambodia), Bakun Dam (Sarawak, Malaysia), Myitsone Dam (Burma) and Merowe Dam (Sudan). Captions and Photo source: ©© International Rivers

Abstract;

Using mooring hydrodynamic observation, cross-shore profiles, and topographic-map and satellite-image comparisons, this study shows dramatic coastal erosion on the Qinhuangdao coast (northeast Bohai Sea, China) between 1986 and 2000, with an average retreat rate of 3.7 m/y. While the retreat rate during 1996–2003 decreased to 1.5 m/y, serious coastal erosion was found around river mouths, such as the Tang, Dai, Yang, Dapu, and Renzaohe Rivers, as well as Qilihai Lagoon, with the maximum of >7.0 m/y.

Sediment starvation induced by dams mainly caused this fast coastal retreat. Sediment flux of the Luan River, the dominant fluvial sediment source in the study area, declined to only 9.0% of the levels before the impoundment of two large dams in 1979. Sharply reduced sediment supply disrupted the stability of sediment transport as well as the beaches’ self-recovery processes after storm surges. Coastal erosion was further intensified by coastal engineering and tourism activities…

Read Full Article, Journal of Coastal Research

China’s Global Role in Dam Building, International Rivers

Chinese dams in Tibet raise hackles in India, The Washington Post

Hydropower Dams Hamper Migrating Fish Despite Passage Features, Study Finds

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The Conowingo Dam, a large hydroelectric dam in the Lower Susquehanna River, Maryland. The dam is one of the largest non-federal hydroelectric dams in the US. Photo source: ©© Stinkenrobotter

Excerpts;

Major hydropower dams in the northeastern United States, constructed with state-of-the-art features designed to allow migratory fish to pass through them on their way to spawn upstream, have failed in that regard, raising questions that should be addressed as more dams are planned worldwide…

Read Full Article, University Of Arizona

Original Study: Fish and hydropower on the U.S. Atlantic coast: failed fisheries policies from half-way technologies, Conservation Letters

Virginia Quake Raises More Questions about U.S. East Coast Infrastructure, Scientific American (08-24-2011)
The U.S. East Coast endures far fewer temblors than the west coast, but damage to dams on the “right coast” could be significant given the older architecture…

Problems With Big Dams, International Rivers

Conowingo Dam options revealed this summer, Capital Gazette
By this summer, officials could have options for dealing with potentially harmful sediment trapped behind the Conowingo Dam beyond the north end of the Chesapeake Bay. Scientists and government officials are studying what to do with the dam, which is running out of storage space for the sediment that washes down the Susquehanna River.

People’s Tribunal Defends Native Villages from Dams, Mexico

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El Zapotillo Dam protest. A banner, hung for a public outreach event in Yahualica, which reads: “Rivers without dams, living towns!”The residents of Yahualica would also be harmed if El Zapotillo Dam is constructed, not by flooding, but pollution. Captions and Photo source: ©© International Rivers

Excerpts;

“What do we stand to lose because of the dam? We will lose everything!” said Maria Abigail Agredani, a member of the committee for this indigenous community in the western Mexican state of Jalisco, reporting the damage that will be caused by the hydroelectric complex being built nearby.

“We will lose the right to life, our culture, traditions, peace, happiness and freedom, our burial sites and our dead, the square, the Christ of Temaca that we love so much, the Agave temacapulinensis plant, the Verde river and 14 centuries of our people’s history,” said Agredani.

She is a member of the movement to “Save Temacapulín, Acasico and Palmarejo,” small towns that will be completely submerged if the El Zapotillo dam is completed…

After listening to the testimonies of people from nine communities that have fought the construction of hydropower complexes in five of the country’s provinces, the members of the PPT issued their verdict Wednesday Nov. 8, condemning the Mexican government and demanding the definitive cancellation of all the hydroelectric megaprojects…

Read Full Article, IPS

El Zapotillo Dam; A Slideshow by International Rivers

El Zapotillo, International Rivers

Seeking Justice On Dams and Human Rights in Mexico, International Rivers

Elwha, The Grand Experiment

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Elwha river estuary. Photograph: © SAF

Excerpts;

“Stanford University’s School of Humanities and Sciences, and their Knight Risser Prize for Western Journalism, has honored Lynda Mapes of the Seattle Times with a Special Citation for the report, “Elwha: The Grand Experiment”, which focusses on the largest dam removal project in the world currently underway in Washington State.

This impressive multi-media coverage includes animation of how the dams are being removed, videos capturing the ecosystem rebounding and fish returning, and links to live time-lapse footage of the dams coming down and reservoir areas reviving. We thank Lynda Mapes and the Seattle Times for capturing and sharing this historic river restoration project. We are encouraged to see folks at Stanford recognize this coverage and hope that Stanford will soon be honored for removing Searsville Dam, updating their water supply system, and helping to restore our San Francisquito Creek watershed and San Francisco Bay.”—Beyond Searsville Dam

Read The Special Report, Seattle Times
“It’s the largest dam-removal project in North America, and a second chance for the Elwha River valley, where dams have blocked salmon runs for more than a century. Two dams on the river are being taken out in a $325 million grand experiment that’s one of the most ambitious ecological restoration efforts in the U.S. Come along as we explore a largely unspoiled place that offers one of the best chances for restoration anywhere…”

Dams’ removal promises unique chance to start over on a grand scale, The Seattle Times

Elwha River Restoration: Dams Removal Project (09-2011)
This September, removal of two dams on the Elwha River, in Washington State, begins, setting in motion one of the largest restoration projects in U.S. history.

Elwha River, Dam Removal Project; a Photo Gallery, WCU / PSDS

On The Elwha, A New Life When The Dam Breaks
Nobody figured the largest dam removal project ever attempted in the U.S. was going to be easy, or fast.The nation’s largest and most ambitious dam removal will begin this month, when workers start demolishing two antique dams on Washington state’s Elwha River…

Fish return to undammed Elwha River
A project to remove two hydroelectric dams from the Elwha River in Washington state is bringing benefits for local wildlife. But the fish are not home free yet.

Underwater Ecosystem Inundated by Sediment Plume, Elwha River
Scuba-diver scientists from the U.S.G.S, with support teams from the U.S. EPA, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, and Washington Sea Grant, are returning to the mouth of Washington’s Elwha River this week to explore and catalogue the effect of released sediment on marine life following the nation’s largest dam removal effort.

The Condit Dam Breach
For 95 years, the 125-foot high Condit Dam in rural Washington State held back the White Salmon River. In an historic effort, the dam was dramatically breached to restore, for the first time in a century, the waterway to fish and other aquatic organisms, as well as the birds and mammals that rely on them. The dam removal comes just weeks after dismantling began on the Elwha Dam a few hours to the north.

New Global Warming Culprit: Dams
Washington State University researchers have documented an underappreciated suite of players in global warming: dams, the water reservoirs behind them, and surges of greenhouse gases as water levels go up and down.

Marshes of Mesopotamia

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Photo source: NASA
At the northern end of the Persian Gulf is the vast deltaic plain of the Euphrates, Tigris and Karun rivers. A complex of shallow freshwater lakes, swamps, marshes, and seasonally inundated plains between the Tigris and Euphrates make up the largest river delta in the Middle East, the Mesopotamian Delta and Marshes ecoregion, located in southern Iraq and partially in southwestern Iran. Captions source: ©© WWF
The Mesopotamian Marshes are a wetland area Historically the marshlands, mainly composed of the separate but adjacent Central, Hawizeh and Hammar Marshes, used to be the largest wetland ecosystem of Western Eurasia.
Regarded by historians as one of the cradles of civilization, the Mesopotamian Fertile Crescent has supported Marsh Arab society for millennia. NASA. The hydrology of these vast marshes is extremely important to the ecology of the entire upper Persian Gulf. NASA

Excerpts;

The Mesopotamian Marshes, a vast expanse of reeds and open water twice the size of Norfolk, are the largest wetland ecosystem in the Middle East and support a number of species of global conservation concern. The marshes hold the only breeding population of the globally endangered Basra reed warbler and the world’s highest wintering numbers of the threatened marbled duck.

Now the marshes are under threat again, this time from the building of huge dams in Turkey on the Tigris and Euphrates…

Read Full Article “Conservation knows no boundaries…”, Guardian UK

Lessons from Iraq: Urban Marshes and City Survival, Science Daily
A scientist at the University of South Carolina is continuing to build the case that natural wetlands, rather than irrigated fields, are the fertile ground from which cities initially emerged in Mesopotamia. And her conclusions about the importance of wetlands to a sustainable urban environment or, in fact, any environment, have particular resonance in southern Iraq. That area is both the site of her studies and the region where Saddam Hussein forcibly drained marshes to drive out the local populace after the first Gulf war.

Mesopotamian Delta and Marshes, WWF

Vanishing Marshes of Mesopotamia, NASA

Water and life return to Iraq’s ‘Garden of Eden’, Guardian UK
One of Saddam Hussein’s greatest acts of ecological destruction, the draining of the Mesopotamian marshes, left a vast area of once-teeming river delta a dry, salt-encrusted desert, emptied of insects, birds and the people who lived on them. But, nearly two decades later the area is buzzing and twittering with life again after local people and a new breed of Iraqi conservationists have restored much of what was once the world’s third largest wetland to some of its former glory…

Dam Threatens Turkey’s Past and Future, IPS

Turkey’s Dams Are Violating Human Rights, Green Prophet

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Marsh Arabs poling a traditional mashoof in the marshes of southern Iraq. Captions and Photo source: ©© Hassan Janali, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers