More deteriorating dams are being removed from streams in most of teh nation, Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post reports. The main reaosns are aging infrastructure and declining fish stocks, and most see the rivers as more economically viable without the dams are gone, hoping tourism will increase.
Eilperin writes that 241 dams were removed between 2006 and 2010, a 40 percent increase over the previous five years. Most were in the East and Midwest, and had been major power sources in communities supported by textile and paper mills. Many state and local governments are trying to decide what to do with old dams. Most of America's 80,000 dams were built more than 50 years ago. It's often cheaper for local governments to remove dams than restore them.
Some detractors say taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for removing dams they do not own, but removal can bring benefits for both wildlife and humans, Eilperin reports. Not only can spawning fish better navigate their way upstream, but in some cases, like in Clarksburg, Mass., dam removal saved the town from flooding during Hurricane Irene. Previously, the Briggsville Dam had raised a river's level to the overflow point during heavy rains. and others - mostly in the Pacific Northwest - who consider dams viable hydroelectric energy producers. (Read more)