For many years, society viewed dams as the wave of the future, providing hydroelectric power, water reserves and controlling floods. Now their removal, especially of older dams, appears to be the new trend.
As dams are removed however, new issues begin to emerge, especially concerning the health of the river and all those affected upstream and downstream. Simply taking the dam down may not be enough, and scientists have begun examining the effects of dam removal on river ecosystems.
On Friday, August 10, 2001 a group of researchers will gather in a symposium to explore "Dam Removal as River Restorations: Linking Ecological, Engineering, Social and Legal Perspectives." Part of the Ecological Society of America's 86th Annual Meeting in Madison Wisconsin, the session combines the minds and ideas of ecologists, geologists, economists and several non-profit organizations.
David Hart from the Patrick Center for Environmental Research (PCER) will begin the session with a presentation entitled, "Dam removal: Challenges and opportunities for ecological research and watershed management." As interest in dam removal grows, researchers are presented with unique opportunities to examine the linkages between physical, chemical, and biological changes in river ecosystems.
Drawing upon their studies of dams and dam removal in Pennsylvania, Hart will propose methods to advance ecological understanding of dam removal and improve the scientific basis for dam removal decisions.
Society plays an important role in dam removal too, an aspect which Sara Johnson of Trout Unlimited will explore in her talk, "What's the big deal about small dams: Societal perspectives on dam removal." Beyond the decisions made by courts, public opinion inevitably plays a major role in determining whether a dam stays or goes.
Johnson suggests these decisions are based too often on incomplete information, and when combined with uncertainty the decision-making
Contact: Nadine Lymn
Ecological Society of America