Dams and Migratory Fish

(An excerpt from Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams, by Patrick McCully) "You fish people are very skilful in getting these fish into cans. Cannot you be just as skilful in getting these fish to be raised up over a dam?" - Comment at public hearing on a proposal for the first dam on the mainstream of the Colombia River, 1924 The annual run of adult salmon and steelhead trout in the huge Columbia River basin — which covers an area larger than France — is estimated to have averaged between 10 and 16 million fish before non-native settlers first arrived

Can We Save Earth's Rivers?

A desert river
An excerpt from the book Rivers for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature, which explores the unhealthy state of the world’s rivers following decades of industrial damming, diversions and other insults, and describes the tools and techniques that could be used to restore them back to health. The following excerpt, from the book’s last chapter, asks the tough questions: What will it take to change our destructive ways before it is too late? No generation before ours would have asked the question posed in this title. It has an ominous ring: how can it possibly be up to us to save

Environmental Impacts of Dams

Low flows below dams killed thousands of salmon on the Klamath in 2002
Low flows below dams killed thousands of salmon on the Klamath in 2002 The environmental consequences of large dams are numerous and varied, and includes direct impacts to the biological, chemical and physical properties of rivers and riparian (or "stream-side") environments. The dam wall itself blocks fish migrations, which in some cases and with some species completely separate spawning habitats from rearing habitats. The dam also traps sediments, which are critical for maintaining physical processes and habitats downstream of the dam (include the maintenance of productive deltas, barrier

Independent Experts Find Fatal Flaws in Amazon Dam Studies

Monday, November 13, 2006
A group of independent experts -- including internationally-renowned authorities on the Amazon -- have found serious errors and omissions in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for Brazil’s massive Madeira River hydroelectric project. The experts found the EIA to be inadequate, and recommend that additional studies be undertaken to evaluate the project’s impacts. The independent studies were commissioned by the Rondônia Public Attorney’s office, and financed by the consortium seeking to build the dams. Brazil’s environmental protection agency, IBAMA, is currently holding public

Madeira River

Madeira River vista
The Madeira River is the Amazon's largest and most important tributary. Spanning about a quarter of the Brazilian Amazon, the Madeira Basin is a treasure trove of biodiversity, providing home to the spotted jaguar, giant otter, pink dolphin, and countless other endangered mammal species. The river teems with life – an estimated 750 fish species migrate some 4,500 km each year to spawn and feed in the nutrient-rich, muddy waters of the upper Madeira. But all this is under threat. The Brazilian government is building two massive hydroelectric dams on the Madeira. Construction of these project


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