Throughout human history, dams have been used to control and preserve water, to generate power, and to create reservoirs. Despite their clear benefits, however, it’s possible for dams to negatively impact the surrounding environment.
That’s why officials in California are in the process of removing several dams that have been in place for decades.
The ‘rewild’ movement
Amid growing concerns about climate change, a number of environmental experts are encouraging the removal of manmade structures in order to allow nature to retake significant swaths of land.
This so-called “rewild” movement has caught on in the Golden State, where the most extensive dam-removal project on the planet is currently underway. The effort is focused on the Klamath River, where a total of four dams have regulated its flow.
One was removed earlier this year and plans are in place to take down the others, returning the materials back to nature and allowing the water to flow along its natural course once again.
Ann Willis of the nonprofit group American Rivers applauded the mission, declaring: “One of the fastest ways to heal a river is to remove a dam.”
A national issue
Although California is at the forefront of this ambitious effort, a recent report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suggests that other dam-focused initiatives will need to be developed across the country.
Whether it involves dismantling, repairing, or rebuilding existing structures, something clearly needs to be done. According to the study, more than three-fourths of all dams in the U.S. have a “high hazard potential,” which essentially means that they pose a threat to human life and the surrounding property.
There’s a financial burden to taxpayers and some homeowners will lose their waterfront view, but supporters of the effort say it’s worth the sacrifice.