VIDEO: Improving hydropower dams benefits rivers
Dams hurt rivers. They block a river’s flow and harm water quality, fish and wildlife, and recreational opportunities. In some cases where a dam is outdated, unsafe, or has outlived its usefulness, American Rivers advocates for dam removal. But in many cases, keeping a working hydropower dam in place makes sense. And with some upgrades to the dam and its operations, we can make hydropower safer for rivers.
Over the last several years, American Rivers and our partners worked with power companies, state and federal agencies, tribes, and river groups on rivers like the Deschutes River in Oregon, the Muskegon River in Michigan and the Saluda River in South Carolina.
We’re excited to release a new short film that illustrates how these projects are models of collaboration, allowing for continued energy production and healthier rivers.
“It’s about striking a better balance between hydropower production and healthy rivers,” says John Seebach, senior director of federal river management at American Rivers. “We’re happy we’ve been able to work with power companies, tribes, and local communities to deliver these win-win solutions. Successes like those on the Deschutes, Muskegon, and Saluda provide a blueprint for how we should be operating dams today, and in the future. This is how you do hydropower right.”
We also produced short videos on each of the three hydropower reform success stories:
Muskegon River, Michigan
A 47-mile stretch of the Muskegon below Croton Dam is a poster child for river restoration, thanks to more environmentally responsible dam operations.
Saluda River, South Carolina
Fish no longer suffocate in a stretch of the Saluda River below the Lake Murray Dam. Coupled with improved flow releases from the dam, the Saluda now supports a vibrant sport fishery and has become a magnet for paddlers of all ages.
Deschutes River, Oregon
Improvements at the Pelton-Round Butte hydropower project will benefit river health, salmon, steelhead and recreation for generations to come.
Thank you to the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Hydropower Reform Coalition for their support of our hydropower work and this video project. Oregon-based filmmaker Andy Maser produced the videos.
Learn more about our work restoring rivers impacted by dams.