Cities like Pittsburgh, Superior and Du-
Water is life, and clean water means health. —Audrey Hepburn
been built to provide power or irrigation, prevent flooding and provide municipal water needs. Of approximately 80,000 three-foot-tall or higher U.S. dams, only about 2,500 produce hydropower. Removal of old dams no longer serving their origi- nal function can restore entire watershed ecosystems, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, add jobs, improve water quality, reinstate natural sediment and nutrient flow, and save taxpayer dollars. Built in 1929 and abandoned aſter
World War II, demolition of an Eklutna River dam, in Alaska, began in 2016. Cur- tis McQueen, an Eklutna tribal leader and CEO of Eklutna Inc., which now owns the dam, reported that 300,000 cubic yards of sediment had amassed there, along with junked cars, TVs and other trash. Te tribe is the first in the nation to be involved in such a massive project, intended to restore its historic salmon population. In 2017, dams were removed in
Alaska, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. A map at Tinyurl.com/DamRemovals
shows dams taken down since 1916. “Te good news is that in meetings like
the St. Louis River Summit, in Superior, Wisconsin, in March, clean water wasn’t viewed only in a strictly scientific sense, but added the human factor to produce more diverse solutions,” says Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D., the Monterey Bay, Califor- nia, author of Blue Mind: Te Surprising Science Tat Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. “Te bad news is that most projects are funded, directly or indirectly, by the federal government. Cuts add chal- lenges and stress to looking for solutions.”
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luth are among many that are protecting, restoring and rejuvenating riverfronts with increased public access, thus rekindling residents’ love for and recognition of the mental and physical benefits provided by their waterways. “We’re in a period of big ideas,” says
Nichols. Two can be easily implemented. First, he explains, don’t build right on the water; instead, sit in the “second row”.
Second, gain perspective by experiencing changes in waterways. “One way to do this is to spend an
hour a day, or even an hour a week, in, on or near the water. Take someone new with you each time,” suggests Nichols.
“You’ll see how best to value, promote and defend our right to clean water.” Ten teach the kids.
Connect with the freelance writer via AveryMack@mindspring.com
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