People now a day’s use dams to impede or stop the flow of water along the river. No doubt this engineering structure gets completely associated with the production of hydroelectric energy. Moreover, we can also use them for a variety of different purposes. When a river gets dammed, it creates an artificial lake behind it which we can use for irrigation, drinking water, and recreational purposes.
The first dams that humans created were considered gravity dams and they were made of masonry or concrete that could resist the water load because of their weight. The ancient Egyptians are thought to have the first one and it was called Sadd el-Kafara and that name translates to Dams of Pagans in Arabic.
Archaeologists believe that structure was 37 feet tall and almost 350 feet wide at its crest and over 100,000 tons of stone and gravel were used to build the structure. On the other hand, it failed after few years because of overflows.
Several pros and cons of dams are worth reviewing when we look at the immediate and long-term impacts of this technology.
Pros of Dams
First of all, let’s have a look at the pros of dams and these are as follows:
1) Provides Help to Retain our Water Supply
The water will pool to form a reservoir behind the structure and we take an opportunity to dam a river. Moreover, it also allows population centers in that region to collect freshwater during periods of heavy precipitation for use during dry spells or drought. We can also supply a fixed amount of fluid to the surrounding areas or agricultural irrigation or use this engineering marvel to control floodwaters.
This also means that a dam can provide a buffer to the entire region. It provides support against extreme weather events or irregular precipitation patterns.
2) Serve as a Source of Drinking Water
Behind a dam because the water in a reservoir is fresh and we can use it as a source of drinking water for nearby cities and towns. In the United States, it is unusual for communities to obtain their entire supply from streams or rivers that are close. We can also use pipes, large canals, and other methods of transportation to ensure that every home has access to clean and safe drinking water.
3) Provide a Stable System of Navigation
We can use dams on rivers to provide a stable system of inland water transportation and navigate the waterways of the United States. It is also like those found on the Mississippi River and can be challenging for some boats to use because of varying water levels. With this technology, installing a system of locks creates a safe place for us to transport goods and services and a variety of additional benefits and in some situations, dams can even provide enhanced environmental protection. This technology also can deliver hazardous materials or retention the influence of sedimentation on vulnerable rivers.
4) Provides us With Critical Recreational Opportunities
Dams can provide us with a variety of environmental, economic, social benefits and can also include numerous reservoirs around the United States that offer opportunities to go camping, boating, and waterskiing.
These destinations can be a better place to have a picnic, go hiking, and spend time with your family and give regions that naturally would not have water access a place to have a boat lunch that supports commercial fishing activities.
5) Gives a Way to Irrigate Croplands that May not Receive Enough Moisture
More than 10 percent of the croplands in the United States are currently irrigated using water that is stored in reservoirs behind the dam and tens of thousands of jobs are directly tied to crop production.
Other agricultural benefits also happen because of this and our food distribution networks remain active and consistent. It also allows us more to do with our growing efforts than if we relied on seasonal precipitation patterns alone.
6) Provides us With the Source of Clean Energy
Hydroelectric energy is responsible for near about 19 percent of the world’s energy supply and offers about 3000 terawatts each year and this way we can produce power from dams. It is because of the kinetic energy of water movements as it causes turbines to spin and that’s what allows us to generate electricity that is clean and renewable.
We have no longer dependent on fossil fuels to be responsible for the energy we need to maintain a modern lifestyle once the dam gets entirely constructed.
The United States is one of the largest producers of hydroelectricity in the world today and even with the reduction of operational facilities and Americans generate near about 103,000 megawatts of renewable energy. Moreover, with this source Canada creating currently has more power in this way.
Cons of Dams
Now it’s time to switch towards the cons of dams and these are as follows.
1) Displace a Significant Number of People
People have been displaced an estimated 500 million and in the last two centuries. It is also because of the reservoirs that form behind each structure and as the surrounding dry areas get flooded and we no longer have the option to use land that was previously accessible for a variety of purposes. It also means that local agricultural activities go through a disruption process and even though the eventual increase in available water supports more irrigation.
2) Disrupts Local Ecosystems
Dams create a flooding issue behind the structure as a way to form a reservoir and not only does this disrupt human activities but it also destroys the existing wildlife habitats that exist.
This issue can disrupt entire ecosystems which can harm a whole regional biome and marine life that relies on an unobstructed flow of rivers such as migratory fish and can be adversely affected by the decision to dam the water.
3) Can be Challenging to Maintain
Then a reservoir that’s behind a dam can be a vital resource when drought is a significant issue for the community. Because evaporation can happen during the day times and result in increased environmental problems and maintaining this new body of water comes with a set of its challenges. It also tends to be a significant buildup of organic matter in the sediment.
It is essential to remember that both perspectives make legitimate claims to be doing what is best for the environment while examining the pros and cons of dams.