Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Revisiting Dams And Hydropower

Traverse City is undoubtedly doing the right thing by removing the upper Boardman River dams. Having dams on a blue-ribbon trout stream hurts the river's quality. Yet the world also needs renewable energy sources.

To begin looking at this seeming dichotomy, American Rivers has released a framework document titled Hydropower Dams in an Era of Global Warming. The principles for judging existing dams are:
- Increase efficiency at existing hydropower dams
- Consider adding hydropower capacity to existing dams
- Uphold environmental safeguards
- Hold hydropower developers responsible for dam safety
- Recognize that dams have finite lifespans
- Judge dams on their impacts, not on their size