Welcome to the Dam and Reservoir Impact and Information Archive!

Recommended by the Smithsonian Institute's Ocean Planet exhibit, on NASA webspace :)


Herein you'll find information on dams, water diversions, impoundments, and hydroelectric projects and their impacts, and related links. While not exhaustive, it has plenty of info - and is the original website dealing with water development impacts and a project of the Dam-Reservoir Working Group and affiliates.

Why this archive? Primarily because the word you hear on the street is an incomplete one - that of promoters rather than researchers into impacts. It makes little sense to go to a promoter for the known downsides of a project. Yes, they know how to build and run reservoirs and power stations but that hardly makes them experts on the agricultural, hydrological, ecological, oceanographic (yes - reservoirs have effects on the deltas and estuaries!), seismic, environmental or socio-economic impacts.

If I want a dam built [not an EIA, mind, just one built] sure I'll go to one of the E-7 and not a biologist. But for a haircut, I say go to a barber, not a scissors manufacturer, or a butcher. For a side of beef, visit the butcher not the barber...'nuff said! ;)

Real projects have real effects. And truth can be stranger than fiction! Dams in the Northern Hemisphere have even been shown by a NASA geophysicist to be speeding the earth's rate of rotation, as well as altering Earth's magnetic field.

Sure, sure, promoters - just *tell* me that's not a major effect! ;-)

Global effects

Now new research is making it quite evident that profligate damming and redirection of rivers is having some surprising and ugly global effects. With ~39,000 large dams in the world, 5500 in the United States and 618 in Canada, is it any wonder global effects are happening? A new paper on large scale impacts is available [Rosenberg et al in Environmental Reviews 5: 27-54, 1997], and deals with this in depth. It also details the sort of time and spatial scale impacts these projects are having. You can contact the lead author about the paper.


Global effects of water development/hydrological alteration were the subject of one special session at this year's ASLO/ESA meeting on The Land-Water Interface: Science for a Sustainable Biosphere . That's the joint meeting of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography and the Ecological Society of America. Conference procedings should be available at some point.

You might also be interested in getting proceedings for the Intrn'l Conference on Large Scale Water Resources Development in Developing Countries.

NEW Stuff

Coming soon! A link to EPA's global map of dam sites.

EFFECTS: What We Know So Far