the film

Dam Nation: Reservoirs of Controversy
- Discussion Forum -

Intellectual - June 8, 2000

Are dams a threat to endangered fish species or other animal populations?
Do they pose environmental threats in other ways?
Should more of them be torn down, and if so, which ones?
Is the NHA right to argue that tearing down dams is economically irresponsible and environmentally unnecessary?

Join the Discussion on the Web or read the Article.

6/8/00 11:38:59 AM- PeterNV
Tear 'em down. There is plenty of coal left.

6/8/00 11:55:54 AM- Damproud
NV Tear them down? This is real enviornmental radicalism. Shall we loose all that relatively clean electrical power to save the fish? And let's not forget that Hoover Dam was first a flood control dam, second a power generator. The five dams on the lower Colorado now supply critical water and power to Southern Calif. and parts of AZ and NV; there is no realistic water alternative to those large reservoirs in the dry southwest. You are talking depopulation, ten of millions of people have to move and/or major nuclear power and salt water distillation plants. And forget those Vegas trips, most of its power and all the water comes from Hoover Dam/Lake Mead.

6/8/00 12:00:19 PM- Academie
Maybe we could have some rivers in a region dammed, others not.

6/8/00 12:00:35 PM- PeterNV
Damproud NV: Tear down the Hoover Dam. Turn 85% of Nevada into roadless areas. These greenies are talking massive depopulation for sure. Nevadans will become unwanted refugees. Perhaps they will let us live off of their handouts.

6/8/00 12:04:26 PM- PeterNV
Maybe we could have some regions depopulated and others not. What a nice moderate position.

6/8/00 12:08:14 PM- Academie
Sounds like a plan to me. I suggest Antarctica for a depopulated region, and Japan not. Is there dissent?

6/8/00 12:08:52 PM- Academie
...and surely, Peter, you aren't suggesting that people can't live without dams.

6/8/00 12:13:41 PM- PeterNV
That's right Academie. The pieces that form our civilization are interconnected. Knock down a dam that is used for water and/or power and you start depopulating.

6/8/00 12:31:10 PM- Call Me Ishmael
Surely this is a debate where extremism is not necessary. A decent cost/benefit analysis of a particular dam should determine whether that dam is critical to human habitation, or whether it has outlived its usefulness. "Tear them all down," is as mindless a strategy as "Dam up every stream" apparently was in the WPA years.

6/8/00 12:36:08 PM- Ezekk
Well, I am sure that there are some dams that have outlived their usefullness as the article implies. Those should be torn down. By forget about tearing down Hoover or other dams that, if torn down, would hurt people. Too, it should be left to the people of a particular state to make the final decision as to whether a dam should be torn down or not. imo.

6/8/00 12:48:01 PM- PeterNV
Ezekk: It would be very nice if people would ask Nevadans if we would like for our state to be roadless. It isn't happening though.

6/8/00 1:10:47 PM- Academie
Why would knocking down a dam depopulate a region? I can only think of two reasons: the loss of power (which can be made up elsewhere, and those working on the hydro plant can work at the X plant instead), and the loss of the tourism at the lake (which is thereby replaced by a river, also a tourist attraction, with more salmon, also a tourist attraction). It's a tradeoff; I don't see why the value of the river would always be higher dammed.

6/8/00 1:14:56 PM- PeterNV
It would all be so easy if we just had some good old fashioned central planning.

6/8/00 1:19:30 PM- PeterNV
Perhaps it would be reasonable to ask the people that have a stake in the dam if they want it torn down. I know it will be more difficult for Babbit et al., but maybe it is the reasonable way to approach it. Just maybe.

6/8/00 1:36:04 PM- Ezekk
Forget it PeterN, Ve know vat is gud for you, comrade.

6/8/00 1:58:00 PM- sleepy
Not so clean: there was a preliminary study which came out recently stating that hydroelectric powere may cause more CO2 pollution than coal. I think it depends on the depth of the water and other factors, but essentially biological matter disrupted by the dam degrades and gives off CO2

6/8/00 3:21:08 PM- PeterNV
CO2 is not dirty.

6/8/00 4:02:39 PM- Damproud NV
Academie- It is not just the power loss, which can be replaced, but in the southwest it is the water storage in those large reservoirs behind the dams that is so critical. Water=political power=population, remember the movie Chinatown and the Owens Valley water wars? It is interesting to note that the same Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power has always been the distributor for Hoover Dam power under contract from the US Bureau of Reclamation. The natural Colorado River's normal flow does not have enough volume for water needs without dam storage; yet in natural spring floods it was very destructive in S. CA to the Imperial Valley and created the Salton Sea.

(bluefish interjects: The Salton Sea was formed because of an irrigation project that mistakenly diverted the entire Colorado to the Salton Sink for two years. Now it is slowly drying up. See High Country News

6/8/00 4:05:18 PM- Hungry
sleepy: That study is what is known as bull shi+. Would the biomass not have broken down absent the damn? Of course it would, where else would it go? You should take all other data from that source with a HUGE grain of salt. Another issue not yet raised is silt. Apparently the lack of silt in river runoff is contributing to long term beach errosion. Bottom line though, their is no such thing as completely benign power generation (yet). The only thing dirtier then coal is burning wood for heat/power.

6/8/00 4:33:25 PM- Mark Wilson
sleepy: I find that rather hard to believe. All biological material degrades into CO2 eventually. In fact deep water can actually slow down and sometimes even halt decay. Especially if the water is cold and slow moving.

6/8/00 4:55:32 PM- CA
The economic loss from the dams and the profound loss of heritage to subsequent generations with the loss of salmon exceeds the economic value of the dams.

6/8/00 4:59:27 PM- Academie
I don't dispute that LA's tremendous thirst is a strong argument for damming the Colorado, and I don't suggest that all artificial lakes be drained (there are no salmon in, say, TX). I would only suggest that some rivers should be left undammed; that dams are not _always_ a good idea; that fishes that can't coexist with dams should also have someplace, somewhere, to breed.

6/8/00 5:02:51 PM- Hungry
CA: Would you care to backup your analysis? It all depends on the value you assign the 'loss of heritage' which is arbitrary. In my book you need to show the present value of lost fisheries exceeds the present value of power generation, flood control, recreational use and irrigation. No doubt that is true for some damns and not true for others. A further question is how to remediate, hatcheries, fish ladders or damn breach. Again each dam is different.

6/8/00 6:11:03 PM- Jimmy Jazz
Regarding the benefits of dams and water storage: On Lake Powell, water is wasted, as several hundred thousand acre feet of water per year seeps into the sandstone, (Glen Canyon Institute). In addition, almost a million acre feet of water evaporate from Lake Powell a year (Muro, 1997). A million acre-feet could meet the annual domestic needs of 4 million people and at today's prices are worth $435 million in the Salt Lake City area. Furthermore, as Lake Powell rises, fills with sediment, and spreads out across the landscape the losses will be even larger. It's also interesting to note that by the time the CAP canal made its way from the Colorado River to Phoenix and Tucson, the region's water saving efforts made it almost unnecessary, and local politicians were forced to seek out uses for the water or risk losing some of Arizona's allocation of the Colorado to those thirsty Californians.

6/8/00 6:28:16 PM- Hungry
Jimmy Jazz: Good point. Another cost and benefit of dams. They increase evaportion (thus increasing humidity, no real benefit) and increase sepage which does replenish aquafers. On the other side Jimmy, how much water would flow to the sea at flood stage absent the damn (more or less then is lost behind the damn?) Funny how nobody thinks millions of acre feet mixing with salt water is a waste (when the rivers are at flood stage the flows for fish and wildlife are more then met).

6/8/00 7:09:32 PM-
Sleepy, that's a good example of why untrained people should shut up about science. If that were true, there would be no coal.

6/8/00 7:40:20 PM- Mark Wilson
JJ: Water that seeps into the limestone ends up in aquifers, which is usually considered a good thing. As to the claim that accumulating sediments are making water levels rise, I like to see the mechanism behind getting the water to rise higher than the top of the dam.

6/8/00 10:24:27 PM- CA
Hungry, according to the 4 dams obstructing salmon on the Snake river yield an economic loss of $244,925,803 per year.

6/8/00 11:43:50 PM- ky
The salmon problem is a CE's dream for fame! So many dams they build are boilerplate and while you may think CEs are boring nerds who cannot dance ( ok, they cannot dance) they would drool at the challenge. ( My data pool -my Dad has retired from teaching CE-hydro-systems and my older brother is still c-engineering, although he doesn't build dams) Let's have a contest, with a huge prize for designing a salmon friendly dam or better, alteration to existing dams.

6/8/00 11:47:29 PM- Mister Know-it-all
A rational decision on breaching dams can only be made on a case by case basis, looking at the costs and benefits. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of skewed and phony numbers generated by interested parties on both sides. And the final decision will be made through a political process, where the opinions of the ignorant carry considerable weight. The biggest specific issue is salmon vs. dams on the Columbia/Snake river system. In this issue, I do not think dam breaching can be justified, because no one knows if salmon can recover even after the dams are down. In the political "split the difference" game, they will probably breach a few of the dams, but not enough to save the salmon (worst of both worlds). Then they (politicians) can say, "look, we tried."

6/9/00 1:24:05 AM- CA
Mr. Know it All, the Bonneville Power Administration, in charge of the 4 dams, spends $334,600,000 annually on salmon recovery outlays. That's not a made up number. The value of the electricity is surpassed by the expensive, and non-effective, efforts to save the salmon.

6/9/00 2:08:39 AM- Mister Know-it-all
Thanks CA for helping me make my point. The bureaucrats are more interested in making it LOOK like they are trying instead of finding effective solutions. By the way, the economic benefits of the Columbia dam system include a lot more than electricity. One big one is barge traffic. Look at the cost of building rail capacity to replace that, and your scales of value may shift. (1 other point, there are way more than 4 dams in the Columbia/Snake waterway.)

6/9/00 2:31:39 AM- Larry Homer
Well, CA, even if you did not use a phony number (I have to wonder), all it proves is that they are wasting an awful lot of money on a few fish. Shame on them. Or, maybe we should all disconnect our air conditioners and space heaters (no more "juice" from the dams) and then wait for the annual spring flood to cover our homes with mud and dead salmon! No thanks!

6/9/00 3:35:57 AM- CA
Mister, the only effective means of dealing with the threat posed by the dams to the continuation of the salmon run is to get rid of the dams. There are 4 dams being discussed as primary obstacles to the fish reaching their breeding grounds.

Larry Homer, the fish may be of no value to you, but what you value isn't the sole criterion on what is spared from extinction, happily. I gave the site where the dollar amount came from. 70% of domestic energy use is for keeping homes at a comfortable temperature; the use of passive solar design and micro-climate control through landscaping could cut that amount down appreciably. I don't use air conditioning, and my house stays comfortable because of large shade trees. Many appliance manufacturers give scant consideration to energy conservation. Collectively, "We use an estimated 5 billion watts annually - the output of five standard power plants - to power electronics while they're turned OFF. TVs and VCRs alone cost Americans $1 billion a year in electric bills while not in use. The energy used creates so much greenhouse gas, it's as if we put an extra 2 million cars on the road and asked them to drive in circles...Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found a compact audio system that drew 23 watts when it was on and a whopping 20 watts when it was off. A receiver for a satellite-TV system, which drew 17.5 watts when it was on, continued to use 17 watts when it was off."This country is WASTEFUL in the EXTREME.

6/9/00 11:41:04 AM- JohnCarroll
Those bast*rds! Here you had this beautiful New England river community with a nice green, white steeple church, tidy homes and Army Corp of Engineers came and drowned it to build a dam. Now if you go snorkeling, you'll see skeletons looking trapped in terror looking out the windows of the submerged houses. Well, maybe not, but it is true that one of the politically connected locals who was making progress in stopping the dam's construction was found in the woods with a bullet the head. So what, you may ask, does this have to do with anything? I don't know. I only know that I can go there to watch the Bald Eagles (the one's the DEP hasn't starved) fish from the reservoir and the river leading to and from it. It also makes a dandy training ground for the Army National Guard, except when the DEP in concert with the EPA and FBI comes running out of the woods with HKs on full auto. surrounding the NG Cobra Choppers and Humvees, doing that stormtrooper scream that's all the rage now, and threatening to blow away the pilots because the feds think that the NG is "smuggling" eagles. Idiots abound and I no longer feel so alone.

Apologies for the incoherency and grammatical deconstruction...

6/9/00 1:35:40 PM- Larry Homer
To CA: Please give me a site where I can confirm the amount and methodology used to come up with your mega-million dollar "cost" for taking care of fish in the Columbia River. Thank you. Now, as for your complaint against TV's that have so-called "instant-on" or remote control features, let's put things in perspective. Electronics are known to last far longer if the components are not subject to heating and cooling cycles caused by being turned on and off. The "keep warm" feature vastly extends the life of electronic components, thus enabling us to spend far less money and resources (including a lot of electricity) to build and buy replacement electronic appliances. My TV's are 9 & 14 years old and the VCR is 14 years old and the only repairs they have needed are a couple head cleanings for the VCR. Back in the "no-keep-warm" days 25-30 years ago, a TV was likely to need repairs and/or replacement within 3-7 years and they consumed 2-4 times more power when on than do current models. However, no matter what manufacturers do to improve their products, you and the other "hair shirts" of the world will never be satisfied. By the way, 5 billion watts at 8 cents a kilowatt/hour would cost $400,000, a veritable "drop in the energy bucket".

6/9/00 1:59:44 PM- Hungry
CA: That's better, no more blanket statements about all dams, OK? Anyway a few points the real cost of maintaining your shade trees in LA is substantial (mostly attributed to the water required to sustain them in the desert, I expect you planted droubt resistant trees but it still has to take substantial water. A swamp cooler is a great solution for low humidity areas like California). I know you want the power made up by conservation but in the REAL WORLD it will be made up by coal. It is expensive and only sometimes successfull, but fish ladders are an option that should be considered (they are trying it on the Deleware river (I think), the salmon counts are still low, leading to statistical lies like $150 million per salmon saved, which is true but only technically, thats $150 million per salmon saved up till now, with all future runs free).
(bluefish interjects: the 4 lower Columbia dams and the 4 lower Snake dams already have fish ladders)

6/9/00 2:00:01 PM- Larry Homer
Tell us, CA, do you keep all your appliances unplugged when they are not in use to save energy?

6/9/00 2:33:28 PM- Hungry
Larry Homer: Perhaps she should just throw the breakers when she does'nt need power. Would save her from having to wear her aluminum foil hat and underwear to stop the nasty old EMF as well.

6/9/00 3:22:33 PM- pji
About that biomass & dams thing: there is a one-off loss of biomass, which decays and produces CO2 (or methane, which is a more effective greenhouse gas, if it decays anaerobically) when a dam is built - IF it floods land with vegetation on and the combined carbon fixing of any aquatic plants which grow in the lake and any extra downstream vegetation produced by irrigation is less than the lost biomass. This is thought to be the case in the great dams on the Dniepr, in Ukraine, and some of the Volga dams in Russia. Perhaps others. I doubt very much if it's true of any dam on the Colorado river. It certainly isn't true of the Aswan high dam.

Loss of silt carried downstream can reduce nutrient levels offshore and hence the productivity of fisheries (e.g. sardines off the Nile delta). In warm enough areas, the creation of a body of still water can increase the incidence of Bilharzia. Don't swim in that lovely clear blue Lake Nasser! In theory, big new lakes can trigger earthquakes (but I've only heard of minor tremors which weren't a real problem), and they can certainly change weather. The locals told me it rains in Aswan almost every year now - one guy said it thrilled his grandad, because he'd never seen rain before the dam was built. He thought it wonderful. There are more than merely the initial financial costs to building a big dam, which need to be weighed against the benefits when deciding whether to build or demolish one. And every case is different.

6/9/00 4:16:04 PM- Hungry
pji: All that biomass was going to break down in the same eye blink of geological time anyway. Further you'd have a hard time finding a single dam that did'nt produce more biomass per year (total affect) after then before. Of course all of that biomass is going to breakdown in the same eye blink. This is all short cycle carbon. Nothing like burning fossil fuels. I do see how that statistical lie was constructed which is why I suggested that the original source for the claim should not be trusted for information.

CA: As no one had a profit motive, why did the greenies need to tell this lie?

6/9/00 4:31:02 PM- CA
Hungry, my shade trees aren't costing anything. They get less water applied than do most yards without trees. What do you recommend, a paved yard? A dirt lot with weeds?

6/9/00 4:44:06 PM- Hungry
CA: I recommend not living in the desert and recognizing the real costs when you do (shouldn't be planting a lawn in the desert either). Painting your roof gloss white reflects 99% of the solar heat.

6/9/00 4:48:17 PM- Larry Homer
Well, CA, some of the greenies want us to return to our roots and live in caves and grass huts! That would be "nature's way", wouldn't it?

6/9/00 4:56:07 PM- Academie
Larry, if you're right (about some Greens wanting us to live in caves), you've simply illustrated Niven's Law: there's no cause so right that you can't find an idiot following it.

6/9/00 5:06:48 PM- sleepy
Mark wilson, others who responded.I remembered the study wrong: it didn't make sense, as you all have pointed out, but I didn't bother to look it up to refresh my memory. the point of the study was not that dams cause more CO2 production. However, the study pointed out that dams trap material in stagnant water, and produce methane in greater amounts. Methane is also a greenhouse gas, and the point of the article was not oveall pollution but contribution to greenhouse gasses and potential global climate change. The effect is more pronounced in very shallow dams."Methane is 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. It is given off by stagnant water, while running water, which contains oxygen, produces CO2."I saw the study referenced in the BBC, but have not read the actual study. Don't know if this link will work.

6/9/00 5:42:52 PM- Hungry
sleepy: As I understand it all but the very deepest lakes 'turn over' every winter (cold surface water drops, warm bottom water becomes the new top layer). A healthy lake is oxygenated. If it's not, there is something else wrong and the whole lake is dead. Farm ponds, the most common damed up shallow lakes typically make good fish habitat (though they must be stocked initially).

6/9/00 5:48:32 PM- Academie
I can't believe that a gas like methane lasts long after it makes it to the surface; there's too much oxygen for it to react with.

6/9/00 5:55:48 PM- sleepy
Hungry Probably a good point. I'm not overly clear on how anaerobic an environment must be to produce lotsa methane. Obviously swamps do, and are still a very viable habitat. I'm no biologist, and don't have a clue.

6/9/00 6:30:54 PM- Academie
Methane is commonly generated from rotting stuff at the bottom of even a well-aerated lake or pond (the rotting stuff _isn't_ well aerated). Wade in, if you can stand icky stuff on your feet, and watch bubbles come up.

6/9/00 7:45:03 PM- pji
Hungry: note my qualifications to that biomass loss. It's usually heavily outweighed by gains elsewhere, and the cases where I've heard it isn't so are all shallow and heavily polluted. I wasn't arguing against dams, just trying to point out that there are often external costs (and sometimes benefits, like occasional rain in Aswan)which should be taken into account. There are many cases where they have been ignored, and in some cases they may be big enough to change the net effect of the dam from positive to negative. In the big dam I've studied most, the Aswan high dam, I'm sure it would have been built even if the costs had been accurately known. It was still worth it - probably.

6/9/00 7:47:56 PM- pji
I do believe I spotted a hint that choosing to live in LA may not be compatible with being an eco-warrior up there somewhere. Bitchy! But true.

6/9/00 8:19:30 PM- Hungry
pji: You read between those lines accuratly. FYI many northern Californians (including me) want to split the state, cut off their water supply (we get water rationed, but West LA keeps its lawns) and get out from under the population derived votes that always send benefits south. Northern Californians feel about southern Californians the same way Oregonians feel about all Californians. One example of a dam that would never be built today is Hetch Hetchy, look up some of the Ansel Adams photos. Daming up that valley was just plain vandalism, might as well dam Yosemite. That dam is owned by SF (the most lunatic fringe left wing area in the US) they can put their money where their mouths are and breach that dam as a test case.

6/9/00 8:53:26 PM- Young Noggin
Hungry: Wasn't there a fairly serious movement earlier in the century (or last century, depending on your stance on that issue) among Northern Californians and Southern Oregonians to break away and form a state with the proposed name as Jefferson?

6/9/00 10:02:58 PM- Mister Know-it-all
The primary relevance of dams to the greenhouse effect is this. When you take an electricity producing dam out of production, the energy needs it served will seek other sources. At least to some extent, these needs will be served by burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas).

6/9/00 10:44:58 PM- Mark Wilson
sleepy: Methane also has a very short half life in the atmosphere.

6/9/00 10:49:12 PM- Mark Wilson
CA: Fish ladders and bypasses have been built into dams for decades, additionally there are several new impellor designs that are less destructive of the fry. Tearing them down is not the only effective alternative, rather it's the only one you want to consider.
(bluefish interjects: the 4 lower Columbia dams and the 4 lower Snake dams already have fish ladders)

6/9/00 10:54:25 PM- Mark Wilson
CA asks - "What do you recommend, A dirt lot with weeds?" - Why not, that's what was there before the city was built. Why am I not surprised that CA wants to exempt herself from the restrictions she wants to place on others.

6/9/00 10:56:06 PM- Mark Wilson
Hungry: I saw a Discovery Magazing feature a few years back that claimed that the new "aluminized" paints were the most effective for reflecting all wavelengths, not just the visible. (Like white paint.)

6/10/00 12:05:00 AM- stopping by
More lies from the queen liar, CA. The cited study makes up almost all its benefits by assuming that the ongoing debt against the dams will disappear with them, which is ridiculous, since we will still have to pay the already assumed debt. [this was how we got f*cked by wppss] It also includes an exorbinant cost for ESA and water rights, a deflated value for power likely to rise, and considers nothing in the local shipping and agricultural spheres. Like all of CA's "science," it's junk science. Honestly, I don't believe this person has any post secondary education at all; certainly, it doesn't show.

6/10/00 12:17:24 AM- observer
There isn't a single river, NOT EVEN ONE north of the 47th parallel more or less, that wasn't totally obliterated by the last ice age, and its fish runs with it. All those rivers repopulated. Salmon have been around about thirty million years; this depopulation repopulation has occured many times before. Conclusions: Salmon do not need any one river. The survival of no one run is vital. This is a case of a conspiracy of junk science, no science, and this oddball animist/humanist religion that is to be found among the watermellons. Keep the dams, remove the eco-nazis.

6/10/00 2:26:29 AM- Mister Know-it-all
observer: The value to our generation of a salmon run that has been wiped out, and might regenerate naturally in 1000 years, is nil.

6/10/00 2:40:25 AM- Cyrus Noe
I publish a public purposes NW Fishletter on fish & wildlife which can be accessed (not anymore, link is dead). There is no real science to support tearing out four lower Snake Dams at a cost of more than $4 billion over ten years. Breaching four big dams sequentially (never been done) would create an environmental diaster and would probably wipe out remaining salmon runs because they'd have to be trucked downstream and up. Dams aren't the controlling variable in salmon mortality anyway. And to complicate matters, salmon are returning in record numbers this year with jack count indications next year will be even bigger.

6/10/00 2:55:09 AM- Larry Homer
The damn dam haters seem to believe they can jam the genie back into the bottle with dynamite! Where were you anti-dammers 50-75 years ago when the "no-future" folks needed you to stop the damming of rivers? I know where you have been the last 25-50 years, however. You have been enjoying the "good life" with cheap hydroelectric power to run your veggie-blenders and cappuccino machines! Or, was electricity used to run your hair-shirt weaving machines?

6/10/00 3:10:01 AM- CA
Hungry, the dam at Hetch Hetchy was built to supply San Francisco with water, not Southern California, and it was William Randolph Hearst who agitated for its contstruction. The dam going in broke John Muir's heart.

Mark Wilson, my yard gets so little water, the plants mostly get by on natural precipitation. You can shut up about things you know ZERO about, as can your slimy buddy Jared Weiks who NEVER says anything beyond contemptuous lies and bigoted opinions.

6/10/00 5:30:08 AM- Richard Frei
One would think that before we go "blowing" up the dams of the Colorado and other western rivers that we first locate and develop alternative sources of water and power. Much of the growth of the West has been due in large part because of the cheap power and water that the dam system provides. Eliminating the dams won't eliminate the need for water and power. Being a native southern California who has witnessed the explosive growth of the region's population over the last four decades I am acutely aware of this. No one has thought to explain where the millions and millions of people living in Southern California (now one in ten Americans live there) are going to find the water needed to live in a semi-arid region. Not to mention the millions living in Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. I doubt the knuckleheads living in Oregon and Northern California who advocate such foolish thinking will welcome us when we are forced to move to northward to where the water is. Your water or your living space (and lifestyle)? Your choice northerners.

6/10/00 8:45:09 AM- Wild Bill
What other endangered species can you buy in a can at the supermarket? The endangered species act has been stretched to the point where only the US congress can restore sanity. We had strong runs of salmon for decades after the dam systems were in place. Did the dams suddenly change and wipe out the fish? Maybe we could talk about the real issues: lack of control of predation (sea lions, comorants, and fishermen).

6/10/00 10:31:42 AM- W. Turk
Two questions come to mind. First, who will "own" the land that is uncovered as the lakes are drained and how will they develop it? Follow the money to find who really is behind these issues. Second, has everyone forgotten the devastation that was caused by the flooding of these rivers? Not that I am in favor of more dams, but with the removal of dams, land along the rivers will be sold,making some fortunes, and floods will create havoc with the poor souls that built on the "new found land." Which is better, to spend tax dollars on maintaining the dams or to spend tax dollars on relief for devastated flood victims? The salmon scare is propaganda.

6/10/00 10:57:21 AM- Mark Wilson
CA: Mostly get by???? You want to eliminate all of the water, including the water you drink, you probably don't bath so that doesn't count. To bad CA can't be bothered to tell the truth about anything. Not when there is important things, like getting what she wants to be attended to.

CA: What's with the guilt by association. Have you really sunk that low? Sorry rhetorical question, one has to rise before one can sink.

6/10/00 11:09:04 AM- observer
"observer: The value to our generation of a salmon run that has been wiped out, and might regenerate naturally in 1000 years, is nil." OK! First, it took only a single full run cycle [5 dead years] for the runs on the rivers DESTROYED UTTERLY by Mt St Helens to return, so 1000 years is nonsense. Still, you have more brains than that idiotic communist CA. At least you admit the real question isn't an intrinsic value of the fish, or a so-called "value to the environment," both of which are dishonest camoflauge for animist worship. At least you understand the real issue is whether or not the fish are valuable to humans.

6/10/00 11:54:46 AM-
A clear representation of Mark Wilson and his competition for King of Obnoxiousness with posts of verbal sludge and sheer hatefulness. Do you both file your teeth into points?

6/10/00 12:06:23 PM- CA
Mark Wilson, "What's with the guilt by association" you want to know -- I don't see you offer your judgments such as "Have you really sunk that low? Sorry rhetorical question, one has to rise before one can sink," to Jared Weiks, to the anonymous with the continuous obscenities and static, or to anyone you perceive as being right-wing. You've launched a host hateful and baseless attacks on me, and not a single word of criticism for those who use vulgar language directed at me, interspersed with expressions of racist bigotry thrown in at random, so it's easy to associate you with them. You're throwing venom in the same direction, or else your silent toward their venom, while you attack anyone interested in protecting what sustains us all, or in having a society with a modicum of fairness. It's a real problem you have.

6/10/00 12:37:01 PM- Mark Wilson
I love the way CA divides the world. There's people who agree with her and people who don't. The people who argee with her are perfect and utterly free of fault. The people who don't agree with her are equal in their villany. They are all the same, there is no difference in any of them. Such bipolar thinking is indicitive of people who have lost the ability to think for themselves. They can't handle the complexities of life anymore, so they seek to reduce everything and everyone to the simplest possible model that their poor, rotted, decrepit brains can have a chance. More evidence that her hatred of people has finally rotted her brain. To bad.

6/10/00 2:11:07 PM- Mopmap
I like the balance that is in this article, although I think that there is one consideration he did not make that he should have: I think that we have to consider this issue very carefully so that the balance in the interior between fresh and salt water is not precipitously upset. Perhaps, we should study species that can live in both habitats and find out what their secrets are.

6/10/00 2:21:18 PM- Mister Know-it-all
observer: salmon run restored in 5 years? Since some salmon have a lifecycle greater than 5 years, most likely the run was never wiped out--just interrupted temporarily. If it is as easy as you suggest to restore salmon, then we don't need to be in such a hurry to decide what to do with the dams before the columbia river salmon become extinct.

6/10/00 3:58:15 PM- Gombi
In the Columbia/Snake River system, four federal dams that provide just 5 percent of the region's electricity have wiped out 90 percent of the inland West's wild salmon in 25 years. When you ask electricity providers what difference it would make to consumers, in price or in service, to lose the dams. They answer, "No difference." There are 75,000 dams in the Lower 48. The removal of four dams would leave us 74,996. And it would leave us the salmon.

6/10/00 4:08:24 PM- Gombi
In 1995, Gail Ater of Gouge Eye, Idaho, with four others, swam the astounding sockeye-smolt migration route from Redfish Lake, 7,000 feet up in the Sawtooth Mountains, down to the first of the four dams on the lower Snake River. In the unfettered Salmon River, the swimmers were carried an effortless 30 miles a day by "just staying afloat and watching for rocks." Then they hit the 40-mile slackwater behind Lower Granite Dam. "You hear the word impoundment differently forever," Ater says, "once you've approached one by swimming four-hundred-and-fifty miles of free-flowing river. Soon as we hit slackwater, a ten-day emotional high became the Bataan Death Swim. Headwinds, three-foot whitecaps, the same boring chunk of basalt in the distance, though you've swum for hours. Five miles a day was torture. We almost gave up." Still far from the dam, the swimmers saw a fleet of boats approaching. It was the Nez PercÚ-the same tribe that kept the Lewis and Clark expedition from unraveling 200 years before-come to honor the group's gesture. The swimmers found fresh strength, made it to the dam, feasted, and made honorary members of the tribe.

But at the point where the humans faltered, the smolts still have seven slackwaters, eight dams, and 400 miles left to traverse. And in each slackwater they encounter an array of predacious bass, walleyes, and the other smolt-devouring artists whose populations have exploded thanks to the slackwaters' elevated temperatures. Lack of current brings migration to a near standstill. The fasting juveniles waste energy seeking river flow. The John Day slackwater alone is 80 miles long. The desert in summer is a furnace. The same temperatures that give voracity to warm-water predators are, by July, deadly to smolts. Schools of salmonids can circle slackwaters for weeks, unable to sense the way to the sea.

When their metabolic-transition clocks run out of time, they become baitfish. Anglers aren't fools. The bass lure of choice in all eight impoundments is a four-inch Rapalla the green-backed color of a bewildered chinook smolt. When they reach the dams, the young salmon that travel deep are summarily crushed by turbines, 8 to 15 percent at each dam; eight dams in all; end of story. The smolts that travel shallow are hurtled over spillways, which kill just 2 percent or less per dam, but only if river current is sent over spillways rather than through turbines. To the region's hydroelectric profiteers, this means that "their" generators are being "robbed" of kilowatt dollars by juvenile salmon. Hence the long, bitter fight for the very flow of this river-and the shocking resentment, among industrial river-users, of five-inch travelers, fasting as they drift, gazing back toward long-lost, mothering mountains. Only because of the Endangered Species Act have these embattled innocents begun to encounter spillways and fish bypass systems instead of killing turbines.

The four dams on the Snake were Conceived at the paranoid height of the cold war, they were bitterly opposed even then for the damage they were certain to inflict on the Northwest's salmon-dependent economy. Among their opponents: President Dwight Eisenhower; the Army Corps that later built them; the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and game; the region's 13 Native tribes; the West Coast's multibillion-dollar fishing industry; and the majority of the region's salmon-loving populace. But cold war politics won out. In 1955, craving a four-dam hydropower saber to rattle at the Soviets at any cost, Congress approved the dams. When they came online, wild salmon runs, as predicted, crashed. Something few people know: The Snake River dams are of a type known as "run of the river," which offer no flood-control storage. The Northwest's far right foretells catastrophic floods with the dams gone. It's a lie. The reservoirs of these dams must be kept within three feet of the top for the sake of their navigation locks. Two more absurdities: for months at a time these dams turn only one or two turbines (the Columbia dams, on average, turn ten or more). Nor do the dams provide significant storage for irrigation. Although water is pumped from the Ice Harbor Reservoir, if the dam were removed, the farmers could place their intake pipes in the free-flowing river---a fraction of a day's work!

6/10/00 5:06:11 PM- CA
Gombi, thanks for the informative posts. Your description of the guantlet set for the young fish beset by still waters becoming to hot and filled with predators can help some to understand why the "fish ladders" are not enough.

6/10/00 6:39:39 PM- observer of the passing scene
Gombi, thanks once again for demonstrating that luddite misinformation can be found anywhere. Those four dams were built in the late '60's and '70's, for go**sake. Ike was dead before the last of them was finished. Will you try to at least get into the proper decade?

6/10/00 6:41:56 PM-
Bonneville wasn't even completed till the early 60's, and it was the first of the lower series; the dams below the still open Hanford reach on the Columbia.

6/10/00 7:56:49 PM-
Observer of the passing scene, you've got myopia. The dams were "conceived" or proposed while Eisenhower was alive. The fact that he died before their completion is a moot point, not at all countering the record of his opposition to the dams at the time they were proposed.

6/11/00 12:01:51 AM-
No way, anon. I worked on the f*ckers, late '60's.

6/11/00 12:09:05 AM-
Gombi should be gumbi: "fasting as they drift, gazing back toward long-lost, mothering mountains. Only because of the Endangered Species Act have these embattled innocents.... " PURE RELIGIOUS CRAP! COMPLETE WITH THE ESA, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE ENVIRONMENTAL SACREMENT! Hey, bonehead, ever wonder how many fish survive the trip downstream in a natural river? about .2% Your arguments, like most environmental wacko posts, lack merit.

6/11/00 12:59:24 AM-
No way, anon, aka timberbeast, probably aka non sequiter, definitely stupid liar. You worked on the dams between cutting down logs, right? You're just a regular beaver now, aren't you? Rightwing compulsive liar.

6/11/00 1:18:26 AM- Jared Weiks
The Beaver An Evening's malevolence

6/10/00 11:44:18 PM Jared as "non sequiter":
billy says "If poor people knew how to play the stock market and work the system, they wouldn't be poor."...

6/11/00 12:01:51 AM [Jared lying as anon]:
No way, anon. I worked on the f*ckers, late '60's.

6/11/00 2:01:37 AM- Stevo
Tsk, tsk. It's so tough to sort out the truth from the dam lies. Which dam posters can I trust? I'd better give up on this whole dam thread altogether.

6/11/00 2:07:25 AM-
Yeah, Stevo. That was the chronology of posts from the dam poster you REALLY can't trust. Says he was a logger on the last thread. Says he built dams on this one. I think he might have been an "environmental economist" on the first thread. A busy beaver, that Jared Weiks. He's the one you reprimanded earlier since he's most given to obscenities, and now he displays compulsive lying.

6/11/00 2:25:49 AM-
errata. Jared was a logger on the second thread, not the last one. He built dams on this one, he says anonymously, but he's left his tell-tale signs, so he's not as anonymous as he'd like to be. Claims to have built dams in the 60's, and while he definitely manifests stunted development with his sort of self-expression, he'd have to be extremely juvenile if he's in his 50's or 60's (the age he'd likely be if he HAD worked in the 1960's); he probably wasn't born until the 70's.

6/11/00 2:43:49 AM- Stevo
Anon, I'm not familiar with Jared Weiks, and as far as I know I've never reprimanded him. I'm not going to guess who this or that anonymous poster _really_ is. ... Logger or dam builder? Hey, maybe he builds dams _out of_ logs, hence the "Beaver" moniker?

6/11/00 2:51:16 AM- Theodore Cleaver
Hey, Wally ... If I was, like, in favor of laissez-faire capitalism and thought government, as a coercive institution, had no legitimate basis and stuff, would I be a libeavertarian?

6/11/00 2:51:51 AM- Wally Cleaver
Gee, I dunno, Beev. Let's go ask dad.

6/11/00 2:53:09 AM- Ward Cleaver
No, son. Most libertarians are minarchists, and believe SOME government is necessary. If you're not careful, you'll end up an anarcho-capitalist. That's REALLY extreme.

6/11/00 2:53:38 AM- June Cleaver
Ward! Aren't you being awfully hard on the Beaver?

6/11/00 2:54:16 AM- Ward Cleaver
You ain't seen nothin' yet, you pearl-wearing little vixen!

6/11/00 2:54:47 AM-
Sorry. Just givin y'all the business.

6/11/00 5:17:45 AM-
Pretty good, Leave it To Beaver script writer. : )

6/11/00 4:40:23 AM- Mister Know-it-all
Gombi, only an ignoramus can believe that you can destroy an electricity generating dam without having any impact. Either the electricity will be generated by other means, or consumption will be reduced (or a combination). Electricity will not appear out of thin air to replace the lost capacity.

6/11/00 5:16:32 AM-
The 4 dams in question together produce 5% of the energy requirements for that region, and that's probably how much is consumed by the "instant on" circuit warming features on so many electronic gadgets. A modicum of conservation wouldn't more than offset the amount of energy produced by those dams.

6/11/00 5:35:22 AM- Stevo
Mr. KIA: Good point. If you give up the dam, you give up what the dam produces, or else make something else do more work to provide the difference.

6/11/00 11:53:46 AM- Dork City
We're talking about an amount of electricity that could easily be made up for with conservation efforts that would've cost much less than the damn dams.

6/11/00 12:43:34 PM- Mister Know-it-all
anon, so glad you are available to distinguish "good" from "bad" uses of electricity. However, once your conservation polices have eradicated the dreaded "instant on" circuit, I am afraid you will find some other "bad" uses to pursue. I do not question your numbers. But once you have imposed enough conservation to balance the 4 dam breachings, what will be next? Enough conservation to breach even more dams? To shut down nuclear power plants? To end the consumption of fossil fuels?

6/11/00 5:16:32 AM
"The 4 dams in question together produce 5% of the energy requirements for that region, and that's probably how much is consumed by the "instant on" circuit warming features on so many electronic gadgets. A modicum of conservation wouldn't more than offset the amount of energy produced by those dams." The worst possible kind of liar, common among liberals, is the kind that distorts the truth. The "REGION" in question is most of the western US, including a big piece of California, which is on the same grid system. Measured in this lying fashion, even Grand Coulee herself only makes about 6% of the total. Those four dams are almost the equal of the biggest dam in the US.

(bluefish: 4-5% of the Pacific Northwest electricity would be an accurate statement.
The John Day, which is the first dam on the Columbia below the Snake confluence, cost the same as each of the four Lower Snake Dams, but produces the same amount of electricity as the four Lower Snake Dams combined). See electric.htm

6/11/00 1:10:28 PM-
Helmet, wake up and get busy!!! You have slipped from the most hated poster to a bad third place behind the Queen of liars CA and her noble opponent Jared!!! Post, fool, post harder!!!

6/11/00 1:36:04 PM- CA
As chairperson of the Politoburo of the People's Republic of IC, I hereby declare that henceforth, any poster, named or anonymous, who disagrees with me or my loyal subjects bfb and johnathan will be called "Jared." Any poster that tries to expose our true agenda and the lies we use to further it will be known as "Jared" also. You are all ordered to stop calling anonymous posters Helmut or any other name.

6/11/00 3:31:32 PM- Gotcha
liberliarwatch (whatever): I do believe you are seriously mistaken. The four Snake River dams come nowhere near producing five percent of the energy of the western U.S. You sir or ma'm, are the liar!
(bluefish interjects: 4-5% of the Pacific Northwest would be an accurate statement)

6/11/00 3:36:02 PM- Mr. Truly Know-It-All
The politics of salmon recovery are as hideous as salmon are beautiful. The dams of the Snake have not just impounded life-giving current: They've created a quasi-culture of slackwater politicians whose hysterical rhetoric has instilled vague yet paralyzing fear in the hearts of federal lawmakers. But what is the substance of these fears? Who are these regional "leaders" trying to convince us to ignore biological reality and spiritual integrity? Representative Helen Chenoweth-Hage (R-Idaho) asks how her state's salmon could possibly be in trouble when she sees canned salmon stacked in her local supermarket-conveniently ignoring that it came from Alaska. Senator Slade Gorton (R-Wash.) sees in the removal of Snake River dams a new "domino theory" that will bring down all dams, everywhere, and leave us in a Mad Max-style postindustrial wasteland ravaged by biblical floods (caused, no less, by the removal of four dams that offer no flood control). Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) responds to rigorous Army Corps analyses linking salmon with jobs and prosperity by accusing the Corps of being stoned. Idaho's ruling Republicans are exploring the possibility of building a 400-mile-long water-filled pipe down which to flush endangered juvenile salmon from Idaho all the way to the Columbia estuary, like unwanted turds. The day a slackwater politician comes up with a cogent, altruistic reason to sacrifice the inland West's salmon to their agendas, I'll eat my trout flies.

Back in 1993, the NMFS/Corps team commenced the most scientifically rigorous analysis of a fish species and watershed ever conducted on this planet, accompanied by a federal promise that the study's science, being the best humanity has, would determine the course of recovery. After four years of arduous effort, the study concluded that technical fixes would never restore viable runs, and that existing strategies of river use would lead to certain extirpation of inland salmon, but that if the Snake River dams were removed our endangered salmon would have an 80 to 100 percent likelihood not just of surviving but of flourishing. What happened? The study's conclusions were squelched, falsified, and politically spun. Suddenly under pressure, NMFS began to raise "other threats" known all along-ocean conditions, overfishing, habitat degradation-as arguments against dam removal. This is like refusing to remove a tumor from a man because his arm is broken. It's also sickeningly familiar. Here is a 1965 tobacco industry medical expert: "Research. . .indicates many possible causes of lung cancer. . .There is no agreement among the authorities regarding what the cause is. . .More study is needed." And here are NMFS "salmon experts," cited and paraphrased last October by The New York Times: "The salmon involves our whole way of doing things. There is no simple, easily defined enemy." "[Salmon] could be rescued by some means short of dam breaching." "One option would be to wait."

Dangerous and superfluous dams are being removed all over the United States-465 of them as of late 1999, with many more scheduled to go-and when dams go, sea-run fish return. On Butte Creek, a Sacramento River tributary, dam removal has helped turn a 1987 chinook run of 44 fish into a 1998 run of 20,000. The pre-dam Snake system produced great salmon and steelhead runs in the 1960s despite the Columbia dams. The fall chinook of the Hanford Reach of the Columbia are thriving today, though they traverse the same Columbia dams as the vanishing salmon of Idaho. The sole difference between prolific life and doom: the four Snake River dams. Yet NMFS bureaucrats, far from defending salmon, keep using R. J. Reynolds style PR to subvert their own best science and defend the dams.

6/11/00 3:43:01 PM
Mr. Truly Know-It-All:"Dangerous and superfluous dams are being removed all over the United States-465 of them as of late 1999, with many more scheduled to go-.... AUTHOR: Trout Unlimited, a national conservation organization, estimates that there are 75,000 dams taller than SIX feet on rivers across the United States, and tens of thousands of smaller dams. ...." A favorite trick of liberal liars is to use "true" information in a wildly out of context situation, like this case. The # of really big dams, Snake river size or better, is very small. The "snake four" are the only really big ones on the hit list. Most of the little ones are just quaint scenery today, or worse, hazards. THEY ARE NOT BENEFICIAL HYDRO PLANTS. Liberals invent nonexistent groups, like "minorities," or "women" whose group cohesion doesn't exist due to wild internal variations. "Dams" is one of their lyinggroups. No generalizations at all can or should be drawn about "75,000 dams taller than SIX feet on rivers across the United States, and tens of thousands of smaller dams." LIARS!

6/11/00 6:07:49 PM- Summa Summa
Wasteful Water Projects:

By the way, liarwatch guy or gal, you're posts contain the most misinformation on this page. You ought to rename yourself ConservativePropagandist or something. Sheesh.

6/11/00 6:10:16 PM- Summa Summa
anonymous: Gotcha's is far more than correct. The four Snake Dams are nowhere near providing five percent of the electricity for fourteen states. There are more than a few accusations about liberal liars on these pages. I don't even come close to considering myself liberal, but the misinformation that I'm seeing appears to be much more frequently in the hands of those accusing others of lying. Very bizarre.

6/11/00 6:23:23 PM- Ofinterest
As reported last year, an in-depth analysis of the economic impacts of bypassing the four dams on the Lower Snake River found that, contrary to the claims of some political leaders in the Pacific Northwest, the region will actually benefit economically in the long-term as a result of dam removal, particularly if it adopts strategies to enhance the positive impacts of a bypass while offsetting the negative effects. The study used and analyzed data collected by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers' Drawdown Regional Economic Workgroup (DREW) in reaching its conclusions. DREW estimated that over 24,000 short-term and 4,700 long-term jobs would be created as a result of bypassing the Lower Snake River dams. In this case, "short-term" refers to the 9-year construction phase of dam bypass. Further, DREW estimated that approximately 6,200 long-term jobs would be lost. The study, conducted by ECONorthwest, of Eugene, Oregon, examined and analyzed the economic impacts of partially removing the dams and considered the opportunities and steps necessary to offset the negative economic impacts that may occur as a result of that action. It found that not only would bypassing create widespread economic benefits including the creation of more than 3,100 long-term jobs in the recreation industry and countless benefits to Native American tribes and the commercial fishing industry, but that the negative impacts that will occur can be addressed and offset through sensible and feasible measures.

In addition, the ECONorthwest study concludes that DREW's findings underestimated the positive economic impacts of dam removal because DREW did not calculate quality-of-life issues and the positive economic impacts they would have on local and regional economies as a result of dam removal. Economists have long maintained that a key factor in attracting high-level, higher-paying industries is the natural environment surrounding an area and the quality-of-life opportunities it offers. The ECONorthwest study concludes that the economic benefits from quality-of-life improvements afforded by dam bypass could be among the most significant and lasting benefits that would result. The study also reports that DREW's work to date has failed to recognize that the economy in the Pacific Northwest is continuing to evolve and many of the industries which may be impacted by dam removal are in decline, and will continue to lose both jobs and income. DREW further failed to calculate the costs of the approximately $10 million annually in taxpayer-funded subsidies currently enjoyed by the transportation beneficiaries of the dams that would be eliminated.

6/11/00 6:46:18 PM- blue collar
"Economists have long maintained that a key factor in attracting high-level, higher-paying industries is the natural environment surrounding an area and the quality-of-life opportunities it offers." OOOHHHH, the siren of high-tech, which pays a few top people well, and the laborers dirt. Someday, "intellectuals???" are going to figure marginal utility applies to them as well. Everybody can't sit on their ass behind a desk; someone must do actual work.

6/11/00 6:56:01 PM-
Gotcha is summa summa. 5% of the region; even the original BS post said that. What the liar didn't say is the "region" is the western grid. WA, ORE, and CAL are most of that total. The grid goes clear to the Dakotas, which, along with Mont, use less than San Fransisco bay area.
(bluefish interjects: 4-5% of the Pacific Northwest would be an accurate statement)

6/11/00 8:01:37 PM- Donn
I'm not convinced that the dams were the cause of the fish-run decline. Seems like the arguments are "post hoc, ergo propter hoc". I've also seen rivers where the Indians' nets go 2/3 of the way across, alternately from each side, effectively cleaning the river of migrating fish. But who does a study of that? As far as the number of jobs that will be created in destroying the dams, who will pay for them? The government? I thought we were the government. So what do 'we' get in return? This whole effort seems to me to be another anti-technology crusade, based on flimsy suppositions.

6/12/00 1:54:16 AM- CA
Donn, this isn't a case of "post hoc, ergo propter hoc". The turbines grind up the fish, the still water heats and bakes the fish, the dams pose a tremendous obstacle to fish entering AND leaving their breeding grounds, and there really is NOT any argument that the dams pose a threat to the continuation of the species since the OWNERS of the dam are putting millions into trying to overcome the problems these dams pose. THEY KNOW THERE DAMS KILL SALMON. If they had an effective argument to the contrary, they would have used it to avoid the expenditure of so many millions, don't you think?

6/12/00 11:27:17 AM- Donn
CA: I do not argue that the dams have no effect; I say the case against them is not proved. I would expect that anti-dam folk would start with some simple numbers: first, under normal (free-running rivers) circumstances, what are the losses per thousand fish reentering the rivers due to various causes, e.g., predators, fishing, fatigue, toxins, etc., etc.? Then, with a dam in place, what are the additional losses due to turbines, changes in water temperature, inaccessible ladders & confusion, etc.? Surely the case could then be simply made: either the dam reduces the final spawning fish population significantly (below population sustainability) or it doesn't. The entire argument could be made in a paragraph, and then one could either dismiss the question or go on to seek remedies. The fact that the IC article does not give this little summary of the necessary basic data leads me to believe that it does not exist. The burden is on those who want the dams removed, and so far, the case against the dams has not been proved.

6/12/00 11:34:30 AM- Academie
Perhaps the question is not whether dams kill fish, but whether destroying a dam will allow their numbers to increase. Agreed; we need proof. Un-dam a river that was once used for salmon spawning, and wait; maybe re-seed the river with salmon eggs.

6/12/00 1:47:24 PM- Hungry
Donn: There's not much doubt, any dam with substantial head (height of the water column) will kill 100% of fish going through the turbines. Traditionally this is mitigated by putting a hatchery just below the dam at the bottom of the river system or with fish ladders (which are much more expensive then hatcheries but cheaper then taking the dam down).

Regarding the 5% figure, I think that's for the whole of Bonneville, the Snake and the Columbia rivers, most power from the Columbia river dams.

Any environmental study needs to consider the coal that WILL BE BURNED if the dam is breached. No wishfull thinking allowed.

6/12/00 2:15:51 PM- Mopmap
Hungry, have you given thought to the sort of turbine that you could use without damning a river and which might be very compatible with fish-ladder sorts of structures rather than damns?

6/12/00 3:21:20 PM- D. Hughes
Donn is correct: the data supporting dam removal simply isn't there. The numbers of total fish passing Bonneville dam this year is the highest since 1938, and it is still early in the season. (bluefish: Bonneville is the first of eight dams that adults encounter and these numbers are predominately hatchery fish that were TRANSPORTED around the dams as juveniles) This means that there are the same numbers of TOTAL fish on the river now as then. Because the Snake river dams, and some of the Columbia, were completed well after these types and amounts of fish runs, one can count the dams out as the cause.

These salmon have been listed as endangered while "hatchery fish" are moving past the supposedly unpassable dams in record numbers. What is the difference between a hatchery fish and a wild salmon? Nothing. Hatchery fish are simply human raised offspring of wild salmon. Hatcheries use wild eggs to rear their smolt, and then release them. In the wild and in the river, wild and hatchery fish can successfully spawn. That the TOTAL fish getting past the dams is the same as before the dams were implemented LOGICALLY makes them NOT a cause of salmon degredation. Sea fishing industries and natural predators and food supply another. Predators of salmon smolt, such as terns and seals, are no longer hunted in the ocean mouth of the Columbia system. Natural predators? Surely they aren't hunting their natural prey. Of course not, it must be these dams which, although hatchery fish are getting by, we need to kill them and take down the dams and return it to the natural state. LOGIC is not on the side of the dam removal camp.

6/12/00 5:17:12 PM- Hungry
Mopmap: Low head dams have turbines that don't kill fish. Too bad they are so inefficent and completely impractical for big honkin projects. For tall dams fish ladders are stairstepped pools connected by small waterfalls, you don't generate power from that flow. During fish runs you simply shut down the generation (Salmon instinctively swim up the fast current, hence avoid the turbines). They are experimenting with fish ladders on the Deleware river (not doing so well initially). Perhaps this should be differed for five or ten years until we know how that run does. Like there's any chance of fast action.

6/12/00 5:17:43 PM- MM
MopMap: I'm afraid that without a dam to raise a considerable head, you don't get enough power to be worthwhile nowadays. Understand, most of the early water-powered applications like flour mills and small sawmills didn't use as much energy as the appliances in a modern kitchen.

6/12/00 5:47:37 PM- Hungry
MM: You know that's a slight distortion. Take the electric stove out of the picture and it's not true. One of my profs had a side buisness building low head hydro for property owners. It's economical at about 5 feet of head (assuming the dam is already there, just add the generator. Typically these were old mill houses). All that really means is the electricity generated will make the payments on the generator and operating costs, still that's more then photocells or wind power can say.

6/13/00 10:36:10 AM- Necessary Information

6/13/00 10:41:21 AM- Further Information

6/13/00 10:44:01 AM- Scientists Say...

6/13/00 1:14:49 PM- Galloping Jackson
Independent scientists have concluded that partially dismantling the four Lower Snake dams is the best way to save salmon. This conclusion was backed up by a recent review of that analysis by four nationally-recognized scientists. Scientists now predict that removing the earthen portion of the four Lower Snake dams has an 80-99% chance of restoring Snake River salmon to healthy, harvestable levels. This process has a far better chance of saving salmon and steelhead from extinction than the current strategy of barging and trucking fish around the dams.

The Benefits of Partially Removing the Four Lower Snake Dams include:

  1. Offering a 99% chance of saving salmon.
  2. Restored salmon runs mean a revitalized fishing economy. Commercial, sport, and tribal fishers from Idaho to Oregon to Alaska depend on Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead runs. Boat and tackle manufacturers, guides, hotels, grocery stores, gas stations and other locally-based businesses are supported by fishing. The Idaho Statesman newspaper estimates that restoring Snake River salmon will contribute at least $248 million to the regional economy every year.
  3. Increased opportunities for fishing, rafting and other river recreation.
  4. Successful salmon recovery will eventually lead to taking these fish off the Endangered Species list.
  5. The four Lower Snake dams are due for at least $250 million in repairs soon. This and other significant maintenance costs will be saved.
  6. Reduction of expensive taxpayer subsidies, currently about $350 million annually, for corporate irrigators, barging companies, and cheap power for other industries, including the aluminum smelters.
  7. A restored river with healthy salmon runs will contribute to the quality of life we enjoy in the Northwest and which brings businesses to the region.

We Can Afford to Save Snake River Salmon and Steelhead:

  1. The four dams provide relatively little benefit compared to their financial costs and their effects on salmon runs.
  2. These dams were not designed for flood control, so there will be no increase in the risk of floods. One dam, Ice Harbor, provides irrigation water for 13 corporate agri-businesses, which irrigate only 35,000 acres, less than 1% of the irrigated land in the Northwest. These farms earn $1.9 million per year, but RECEIVE TAXPAYER SUBSIDIES OF $11.2 MILLION PER YEAR.
  3. Irrigation can continue by extending pipes to the new river level.
  4. Since 1979, the Northwest has saved, through energy conservation, an amount of electricity equal to that produced by the four Lower Snake dams and could double that.
  5. A seaport on the Rocky Mountains of Idaho that benefits barge shippers. Maintaining this barging corridor from Lewiston, ID to Washington's Tri-Cities will cost $350 million in taxpayer subsidies over the next five years. The best alternative is to ship goods via truck and rail, as they were before the last dam was built in 1975.
  6. A 1998 economic analysis by the Northwest Power Planning Council found that making the changes to the four Lower Snake dams and John Day dam is affordable. Residential electric customers in the Northwest will continue to enjoy the lowest power rates in the nation.

6/13/00 1:23:26 PM- Weasel word watch
'Independent scientists have concluded' could be followed by ANYTHING. This is an opinion, no more no less.

6/13/00 4:49:31 PM- Charles Taylor
Before you breach those dams, Detroit would like to borrow some juice:

6/13/00 4:57:12 PM- Mong ...When they need to, I think Detroit Edison often times borrows juice from the other side of the River (Canada), if I'm not mistaken.

6/13/00 5:02:36 PM- D. Hughes
That the dams are the only cause of species degredation makes no sense. Like any other creature, the life of salmon is determined by a number of factors: food supply, predators, chemicals, habitat, human predation (fishing) and human environmental factors (such as dams). That some "scientists" have given dam removal a 99% chance of anything shows a bias that should be alarming. One can say that dam removal would have a positive benefit for salmon (the real conclusion of scientists) NOT that dam removal has a 99% chance of TOTALLY RESTORING so-called wild salmon runs.

Reports of the supposed economic benefit of restoring the rivers to some artifical "wild" state are false positives at best.Currently the TOTAL fish runs on the Columbia system are rather large. Salmon, steelhead, as well as bass, sturegon, and various panfish species find a home on the Columbia/Snake lake system. Simply driving down the highway and looking out on the river shows that tourism and fishing dollars are already here. Additionally, the Columbia river gorge (from near Portland to somewhere near Arlington) is home to some of the greatest windsurfing in the world, and each year competitions and tourists flock to windsurf the gorge. In a so-called "wild" state these dollars would be lost. The Snake River dams would have little effect on this, other than losing Snake River fishing dollars, but once the snake river dams are gone, the Columbia dams are the next target.

6/13/00 5:09:40 PM- alanH
D. Hughes: who is saying the dams are the *only* problem?

6/13/00 5:15:56 PM- D. Hughes
The "expose" on subsidy is a dead end. Dam removal would cost an astronomical amount and should be considered a "subsidy" of those who support the so-called "wild" state of the river. "Subsidy" in the sense used above seems to simply mean "government spending." That dams provide service to irrigation farmers as well as dryland wheat and lentil farmers in the Inland Northwest, then that's great.The choice is between two types of land use and subsidy: tourism and stewardship. I trust the farmers currently taking care of the land to use it to the greatest benefit, to produce food and valuable crops and ship them to markets from Portland, Oregon, to starving countries in Asia. I would support families working the land with my "subsidy" money over some rich east coast fly fisherman who will fly in for a few days of fishing, sleeping in luxurious lodges, and then leaving. When the economy is bad, the tourism dollars will dry up mighty fast, while farmers, be they small family operations or large agribusiness are HERE FOR THE LONG HAUL!!!Calling it a SUBSIDY doesn't make it wrong. Arguing that the dams are ugly is an aesthetic judgement. Arguing that an artifically "wild" river is more beautiful most likely means you don't live here, don't work here, and really don't care.

6/13/00 5:17:15 PM- Don Coyote
I think we should tear down the dams until the Oregonians pay the same high prices for electricity that the rest of us do. LET MY FISHES GO!!!!

6/13/00 5:30:56 PM- D. Hughes
alanH: The debate seems to state outright that, to paraphrase, 'removal of the dams will restore salmon.' One post above says, 'removal of the earthen portion of the dam has an 80-99% chance of restoring salmon to harvestable levels' or some such. Examples such as this are rife in this discussion and in the media discussion of this topic generally. The trouble is that removing the dams has HUGE effects but have nowhere near the "80-99%" effectiveness that some claim. Why not try a complete coastal fishing ban, working with coastal and instream food supplies, working to control natural predators, or trying less dramatic alternatives like building fish ladders where none exist. (bluefish interjects: the 4 lower Columbia dams and the 4 lower Snake dams already have fish ladders)

My problem with the situation, and the tone of the debate alltogether, is that BREACHING is the only option. First, total fish runs are way up and look to be up due to HEALTHY FOOD SUPPLIES in the ocean this year and next. But because "wild" stocks haven't bounced back in the last 6 months, we've got to breach the dams. If we can keep food supplies up, work on the natural predators problem, move coastal fishing into a more sustainable aquaculture mode, and try to discover workable alternative to breaching, we may be able to save the fish AND the dams. But no politian in the Northwest, or the U.S. seems to want to advocate long term, sustainable stewardship of a vital resource. We want to either do nothing or breach the dams. Too bad.

6/13/00 7:51:17 PM- alanH
D. Hughes: but surely we can take another look at whether the dams are still necessary, and certainly each situation will vary to some degree.

6/13/00 7:54:35 PM- Mark Wilson
alanh: Anyone who says that all we have to do to bring the salmon back is remove the dams.

6/14/00 12:32:25 AM- Mister Know-it-all
D Hughes offers some interesting alternatives for saving salmon. Unfortunately, they don't hold much hope. "If we can keep food supplies up" in the ocean for example. How do you enhance salmon food supply in the ocean? Send thousands of ships to dump millions of tons of salmon food? No, the best we can hope is to avoid disrupting the natural ecology that produces salmon food. There has been a tremendous effort, over a period of decades, to save the salmon without breaching dams, and the decline of natural (non-hatchery) fish has continued to decline to the verge of extinction. Dam breaching is not the ONLY factor, but I don't think you will find a magic bullet to save the salmon, unless you include dam breaching as a part of the answer.

6/14/00 7:48:49 AM- alanH
KIA: good post.

6/14/00 10:11:05 PM- Mister Know-it-all
alanH agrees with me, I better rethink my position (just kidding). One thing that worries me: if they breach the dams, the salmon may extinctify anyway. There is a "point of no return," and no one knows where that point is for salmon.

6/15/00 7:21:25 AM- alanH
KIA: well, salmon aren't circling the drain overall, though I know a number of species are not doing so well. Certainly it makes sense to reexamine the need for these dams and remove them where it makes sense to.

There's a tale about that in Michener's "Alaska." This cannery built a good, strong net that caught every salmon working its way upstream, and they had a great season. Boy were they surprised when there were no salmon the next year.

6/15/00 7:43:09 AM- dfr
Yukon River salmon are down over 90% in the last fifty years. Of course we really have no data of the previous population, however I believe there is only one dam on the Yukon and that is over 1500 miles from the mouth of the stream. The river flows through an area that has a total population of less than 100,000 people. Is the dam damning the fish? Are there too many people? Maybe we don't want to consider any questions that don't empower a government agency to "solve" the problem. Doing "something" can be as unfortunate a choice as doing nothing. The law of unintended consequences works as well for people "doing something" as for those doing "nothing". This is another issue where we just don't have the answer. IMHO the issue requires more study. Protect the stream banks, control pollution as well as possible, hope, and study. Nobody said it was going to be easy!

6/15/00 9:53:03 AM- alanH
dfr: if it's the dam that's causing the trouble, what does it matter how many people live around there?

6/15/00 10:07:03 AM- dfr
Why would you think it was the dam allen? Many people say it's the dam. I was giving an example of a wilderness river, with pacific salmon, with little human interference, that exibits the same problem. Why blame the damn dam?

6/15/00 6:04:48 PM- Todd Mickelsen
I think it is interesting that Trout Unlimited members spend a lot of time talking about fishing and touting the great fishing in the tail waters from one side of their mouths and talk about removing dams from the other side. I don't think that they can really have their cake and eat it too can they? Or are they going to selectively decide which dams to remove based on THEIR recreational benifit? Note: There are 4 great tail waters within a three hour drive of me that a lot of members seem to fish, especially in the winter months when the trout and there food supply shut down in the free flowing rivers or in the spring when snow run-off makes them unfishable.

6/16/00 12:32:44 PM- alanH
you ask them if they're members? And you see how much they catch?

6/20/00 11:25:00 PM- Alan
The environmentalists want to breach all the dams then turn on their light switch when it's dark and their heat when it's cold. I never met an "envrionmentalist" who really made much sense. This dam breaching idea is a good example. Really true environmentalists are farmers, ranchers, loggers etc. those people of the earth who spend their lives out in the environment!

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Dam Nation: Reservoirs of Controversy
Intellectual, June 8, 2000

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