An Unnecessary Evil

Dams on America’s rivers serve three primary purposes:

  • Energy Production;
  • Flood Control;
  • Water Storage.

Dams are not necessary.

Energy Production

Electricity generated at dams is not stored. It is delivered to homes and other users across hundreds of miles of power lines. This is least efficient, and most expense, way to produce and deliver electricity. It is more efficient, and cheaper, to produce, store and use electricity at your home. The technology for each homeowner to generate and store all the electricity the household needs is available now. Producing, installing and maintaining household power systems are potential growth industries.

Why don’t homeowners generate power? Buying the appliances needed to produce electricity at home is expensive. Power companies would have to change business models. We need to create tax and other incentives that make it possible for homeowners to be energy independent. This would eliminate the need for dams to produce electricity.

Flood Control

Dams degrade or destroy the health of rivers and the coastal areas. Removing dams will allow rivers to return to their natural width and depth. Rivers will be larger. They will flood periodically. Healthy rivers may change course over time. Riverbanks and coastal areas are environmentally sensitive areas that must be preserved and protected. Effective flood control must protect private property from the rivers. It must also protect the rivers from development.

Expanding Federal flood insurance will mitigate potential impacts on private property from the flow of healthy rivers.

The system could work as follows:

Private property owners should not have to buy Federal flood insurance. Flood insurance should not be limited predefined flood plains.

A river floods and destroys private property. The State Government petitions for Federal flood insurance funds. The petition authorizes the Federal Government to offer to pay private property owners for property destroyed by flood. The payment offered would equal fair market value. If the owner accepts the payment, the Federal Government would own the property. An owner could refuse payment. State and local Governments would also be eligible for payment.

The Federal Government would then remove any permanent structures and impermeable surfaces on the property. The Forest Service would then protect the property as wilderness. The newly created wilderness areas would protect the health of rivers, coasts, and other environmentally sensitive areas. They would also form a buffer against future loss of property by flooding.

Water Storage

The average American uses about 100 gallons of water per day. A sustainable atmospheric water system pulls water from humidity in the air.  A unit about twice the size an air conditioner can provide all the water a family needs. These units are available now.

Farms use enormous amounts of water.  Sprinkler irrigation uses more than 5,000 gallons per acre.  Flood irrigation uses up to 27,000 gallons per acre.  Drip irrigation uses only about 1,000 gallons per acre.  Large sustainable atmospheric water systems can provide all water a farm needs.

Making, installing, and maintaining sustainable atmospheric water system are potential growth industries.  Using these systems will eliminate the need for large dams and reservoirs.

Dams are environmentally disastrous. They are not necessary.

We should remove all dams that meet one or more of the following criteria

  • The dam is on a river that flows through more than one state;
  • The dam was built by the Federal Government or with Federal funds;
  • The dam is built on Federal land or it backs water onto Federal land.

Removing dams will restore the health of America’s rivers.  Healthy rivers have a positive impact on the health of coastal areas.  Removing dams will also create thousands of well paying jobs.


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