Improving – or Removing – Outdated, Harmful Dams

algae bloom behind klamath river dam

Algae bloom behind Klamath dam | James Norman

Few things have such a fundamental impact on a river as a dam.

Dams block a river’s flow and can harm clean water, fish and wildlife, and recreation opportunities.

American Rivers plays a leadership role in working to reform dam operations to more closely approximate natural river flows and benefit fish, wildlife and communities. There are pros and cons to hydroelectric power. We can get clean energy from hydropower, but it must be sited, operated, and mitigated responsibly in order to earn this distinction. However, many dams fail to meet this standard and hydropower generation can damage rivers. The good news is that an increasing number of facilities do.

In the instances that dams have become outdated, we have pioneered a science-based approach to the removal of outdated dams and other stream barriers that engages communities in restoring their rivers, motivates civic leaders to become champions and identifies state and federal funds to make the removals possible.

Our expertise and advocacy have directly contributed to the removal of more than 200 dams across the country. We have also contributed indirectly to numerous other projects by helping government agencies and nonprofits expand their capacity to restore rivers through trainings and focused program assistance.