CANADA: 'Hydro Power is breaking our hearts'

Ian St. John istjohn at
Mon Jul 19 22:11:48 EST 2004

Fresno Farms wrote:
>   People see "pretty" mountain reservoirs and don't think
> much about it.  But building a reservoir results
> in 100% habitat destruction.  Typically, reservoirs
> (to maximize water volume) are built on rare "flats" and
> meadow areas, which are extremely important biodiversity areas.

Good point. The logging of now rare large log timber in many of the vallleys
points to the rush to dam everything with little real regard for the purpose
of the dam.

>    Thus due to the rare topography, reservoirs are often
> located on critical migration routs (deer and such) and
> (say,) fawning areas.  Deer drowning mortality rates alone
> can be high enough to wipe out a deer population within
> a few years.  And of course, no more timber, into the
> foreseeable foture.

It will take them decades to log the now barely accessible timber that was

> A good, viable hydro project site is a rare thing,
> -- many things need to come together for it to work.
> Because most good hydro project sites were used
> by the 1950's most new projects are the result of
> government pork and such. They are economically a bad deal.
> It's good for nobody but the builders and the politicians.
> But many lose, from the countless faceless taxpayers, to most
> of all; the people and life closest to the site.

There are two basic reasons to build dams and many not to. One reason is
hydro power. Another is flood control. But flood control could be done with
barriers that can be raised in place during flood events, not creating a
permanent reservoir ( seee dutch dikes and flood protection for Venice. ).
This would allow the fish to use the rivers and recover most of the natural
salmon runs, as only a few hydro dams are necessary given the lack of water
in the region. The recovery of the flooded land would be a bonus.

Hydro power can still be useful in selected areas where there is a large
reservoir, mostly with little vegetation, such as at boulder dam. But even
that should be considered. Do we REALLY need a hydro dam just to maintain
the patterns of the past or could we replace it with a similarly cost
nuclear power. We really have to consider the envrionmental costs for EACH
dam project. About the only motive for building a dam today is the need for
water reservoirs and diversion. These can be far enough 'upstream' to leave
most of the environment alone.

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