Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
A dam on the Quassaick Creek in Orange County, N.Y. Photo: Dave Sanders for The New York Times
The removal of legacy dams, which were first constructed dozens to more than a hundred years ago, is proving to be increasingly popular to restore river flows now that they are no longer serving any purpose for generating power or driving industrial uses. The New York Times explained that there are hundreds of such dams in upstate New York and around the country and that local environmental groups and activists are gaining traction making the case that taking them out can be great for restoring fish spawning habitat as well as for reconnecting ecosystems that were physically blocked by these antiquated structures.
Why This Matters: There is no doubt that a free-flowing river is a healthy river. As has been much discussed recently, the need to do everything we can to restore and conserve the natural world to stave off the next wave of extinctions and to combat climate change. According to the Times, there are about 2,000 dams in the Hudson River Estuary between New York City and Albany, N.Y. and there are thousands more across the country, many of which are totally obsolete and even dangerous to people — they can give way easily and some even have “recirculators” at the bottom of them that can pull people under if they happen to fall in or capsize when kayaking or canoeing. The bottom line is that while dam removal may be controversial in some places, in others its a no-brainer. And the government should encourage and even help fund it.
The Whitley Dam in Indiana For Example
Early in January, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reported that the demolition had begun of the Collamer Dam on the Eel River in central Indiana, which will open up 95 miles of waterway, thereby promoting both safer recreation and ecological health. It will be the fourth dam removed from the Eel River in recent years — dams that were originally placed on the river in the 19th century by early settlers to the areas to aid the development of grist mills driven by water power, but no longer served that purpose and had no role in flood control either. Removal will take only five days and cost only $50,000 — funding came from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Ohio River Basin Fish Habitat Partnership and a private donation.
After Removal A Changed Landscape Emerges
A similar dam was removed in 2015 by the New Haven Land Trust with the help of Save the Sound, a local environmental organization, and once the pond behind the dam was allowed to flow freely, it exposed the land underneath, which looked “a little rough,” according to locals. But the Land Trust had educated the public in the area about what to expect after the dam came out so they did not have “a revolt.” Now the area is lush after being restored with native plants and trees, and Save the Sound also worked to restore the West River by creating rock pools within the banks of the free-flowing river so that it would be appealing to migrating fish.
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer For decades, uranium mining has contaminated the Navajo Nation, causing higher cancer rates and water pollution. Even though the health risks and environmental harms of uranium mining are well-established, new operations continue to move forward. One local group, the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) hasn’t found a […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he would extend the drought emergency statewide and issued an executive order to have residents conserve water. As part of this effort, eight new counties were added to the state of emergency, and authorized the State Water Resources Control Board was authorized to […]
By Elizabeth Love, ODP Contributing Writer Authorities in the Canadian Arctic territory Nunavut, announced a state of emergency this week due to a possible contamination event affecting the City of Iqaluit’s water supply. Tests were performed after residents reported the smell of gasoline coming from their tap water, but they came back clean. However, […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.