Planetizen - Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education

Dam Removal Goes Mainstream

In 20 years, dam removal has gone from a "fringe notion" to "wide acceptance." National Geographic explains how and why this sea change occurred.
January 28, 2015, 12pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

Michelle Nijhuis reports on the quickly growing trend of dam removal in the United States by first citing the example of White Clay Creek, a tributary of the Delaware River in northern Delaware.

"The White Clay Creek dam was the first ever removed in the state of Delaware, but it was far from the only one removed in the United States last year. On Tuesday, the conservation group American Rivers announced that 72 dams were torn down or blown up in 2014, restoring some 730 miles of waterways from California to Pennsylvania."

According to Nijhuis, supporters of dam removal mostly align behind the cause of fish like salmon, American shad, striped bass, and river herring. Dam removal advocates have scored several high-profile victories, such as the removal of the 210-foot-high Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River in Washington state in 2014. But, as Nijhuis explains, "most of the 865 dams removed in the United States during the past 20 years are small structures originally built for flood control, irrigation, or very local hydropower."

The article also includes discussion of how dam advocates have shifter their attention to watershed restoration, which requires removal of several dams at once, as well as international dam removal projects in Europe and Japan.

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 in National Geographic
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email