Environmentalists and dam operators try to make peace
Unlikely partners are getting more clean energy from hydro-power while reducing the environmental harm from dams. The industry that operates America’s hydroelectric dams and several environmental groups announced an unusual agreement to work together to get more clean energy from hydro-power while reducing the environmental harm from dams. It is a sign that the threat of climate change can be a catalyst for positive change.
Rethinking a decades-long battle over water
The threat of climate change is spurring both sides to rethink their decades-long battle over a large but contentious source of renewable power. The Uncommon Dialogue on Hydropower, River Restoration, and Public Safety seeks to do the following:
- Rehabilitate both powered and non-powered dams to improve safety, increase climate resilience, and mitigate environmental impacts.
- Retrofit powered dams and add generation at non-powered dams to increase renewable generation; develop pumped storage capacity at existing dams; and enhance dam and reservoir operations for water supply, fish passage, flood mitigation, and grid integration of solar and wind.
- Remove dams that no longer provide benefits to society, have safety issues that cannot be cost-effectively mitigated, or have adverse environmental impacts that cannot be effectively addressed.
Solving twin challenges
Driven by the urgent need to address the twin challenges of climate risk and river conservation, they are catalyzing their unlikely collaboration in seven areas:
- Accelerate the development of hydropower technologies and practices to improve generation
efficiency, environmental performance, and solar and wind integration.
- Advocate for improved U.S. dam safety.
- Increase basin-scale decision-making and access to river-related data.
- Improve the measurement, valuation of, and compensation for hydropower flexibility and
reliability services and support for enhanced environmental performance.
- Advance effective river restoration through improved off-site mitigation strategies.
- Improve federal hydropower licensing, relicensing, and license surrender processes, and
- Advocate for increased funding for U.S. dam rehabilitation, retrofits, and removals.
Collaboration can work
The Uncommon Dialogue continues to conduct collaborative work and productive discussions on
hydropower, river restoration, and public safety. Climate risk is catalyzing unlikely collaboration.