Rethink the Future of Dams

The tide has shifted on dams. Once a monument to our engineering prowess, there’s now widespread acknowledgment that dam-building comes with a long list of harms. Some of those can be reversed, as shown by the 1,200 dam removals in the past 20 years.

But the future of our existing dams, including 2,500 hydroelectric facilities, is a complicated issue in the age of climate change. Dams have altered river flows, changed aquatic habitat, decimated fish populations, and curtailed cultural and treaty resources for tribes. But does the low-carbon power dams produce have a role in our energy transition?

That’s a question some environmental groups and the hydropower industry have been discussing for the past few years, and it’s resulted in a joint effort to work together on increasing the renewable energy potential of existing dams while helping to minimize their environmental harm.

It’s just one effort to rethink the future of dams. Here’s what else to keep in mind:

The removal of Marmot Dam. (Photo by Portland General Electric, CC BY-ND 2.0)

— source | Tara Lohan | Oct 28, 2020

Nullius in verba

Only 1% of global rivers contribute 80% of riverine plastic pollution to oceans

1000 rivers account for nearly 80% of global riverine plastic emissions into the ocean, according to our study, published in Science Advances. Our model suggests that instead of a handful of large continental rivers contributing the most emissions, a high number of small and medium-sized rivers play a significant role in the influx of plastic from rivers to the ocean. These 1000 rivers can present very different characteristics, including river width, flow dynamics, marine traffic, and urbanization. A wide range of mitigation measures must be applied to these rivers across the globe to substantially decrease the amount of waste entering our oceans from rivers. Our study results are accessible in this interactive map, where you can find and help to address your nearest polluting river. These 1000 rivers account for nearly 80% of global annual emissions, ranging between 0.8 million and 2.7 million metric tons per year, with small urban rivers among the most polluting.

— source | 30 Apr 2021

Nullius in verba

Power Ministry Wanted to Dilute Rules So Hydro Projects Can Release Even Less Water

According to the notification issued by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation – now called the Ministry of Water Power – all hydroelectricity projects situated on the upper streams of the Ganga were mandated to release 20-30% of water into the river in different seasons.

Environmental flow refers to the minimum amount of water required to preserve the health of the river and the livelihood of its aquatic organisms. While experts and environmental activists believe that the prescribed e-flow is not adequate, demanding that the limit be increased, official documents reveal that the Centre is trying to reduce it further.

— source | 21/Feb/2021

Nullius in verba

Gujarat Workers Protest as Salt Pans Submerge Due to Diversion of Excess Water from Narmada

At Kharagoda in Surendranagar district of Gujarat, the entry point to the Little Rann of Kutch region, the salt farmers stood in ankle deep water in their salt pans, holding placards as they announced their decision to boycott local body elections as mark of protest. They claimed, each year excess water from Narmada is released in the area destroying their produce. The salt production has gone down by 40% in the past five years due to flooding of the salt pans.

— source | 18 Feb 2021

Nullius in verba