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Even in Armenia, Environmentalists take on Hydroelectric Schemes

Environmentalists in Armenia say a strategy of building multiple hydroelectric stations to harness the country’s rivers is storing up problems for the future. Armenia lacks oil and gas reserves and is trying to develop hydroelectric power as a way of reducing its reliance on fuel imports. Ecologists, however, say that damming up rivers destroys waterways and the unique ecosystems they support. “Rivers are being turned into pipelines,” said Levon Galstyan of the All-Armenian Ecological Front. “No public consultations were organised, and people’s interests have been ignored.” Armenia has gone from having just 11 small hydroelectric power plants in 1997 to 137 small hydro power plants today, with another 77 being built. It also has bigger plants arranged in  series of two, or “cascades,” Sevan-Hrazdan and Vorotan. The construction drive is underpinned by a 2004 law which assumes that dams on mountain rivers could meet around 30 percent of Armenia’s electricity needs. That is still some distance away. As Aram Gabrielyan, head of electricity supplies at the energy ministry, points out, nuclear power provided 28 percent of the country’s power last year, 42 percent was generated by gas-fired stations, and most of the rest by hydroelectric plants. Robert Galstyan, head of the village of Marts adjacent to one of the dams, said the government’s strategy is all wrong. “Construction of hydroelectric power stations has reached such a level that in 20 or 30 years’ time, this state will be facing a social and ecological catastrophe,” he said. “There will be power stations on 90 percent of rivers, and in the dry season they will all dry up.”
READ MORE AT  http://tinyurl.com/mhe2hjh
 

$15 billion Chicago tunnel plan not directly tied to stopping Asian carp

Work continues on Chicago’s big dig — a massive tunnel and reservoir system to protect against storm-driven floods and sewer overflows. The project is expected to take more than a half-century. Now the Army Corps of Engineers is proposing a new tunnel and reservoir project that would nearly double the storage capacity of the one underway. It’s part of the agency’s plan to block Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan. Great Lakes advocates call it overkill.

Read more at: http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/bulk-of-15-billion-plan-not-directly-tied-to-stopping-asian-carp-b99198589z1-244565881.html#ixzz2t1vtJS9c

Let Loose the Neuse: Riverkeeper Strongly Supports Removing the Milburnie Dam

The Neuse River Foundation, and the Upper Neuse River Waterkeeper, Alissa Bierma, have written a fine letter in support of the Milburnie Dam removal during the recently concluded public comment period. We are so pleased that, in this expert organization’s estimation, the dam removal is the wise thing to do and will greatly benefit the ecological health of this important river.

 

Neuse River Waterkeeper’s Public Comment on the Milburnie Dam Removal

Thar' She Blows: Condit Dam goes down ugly in Washington State

 

As readers know, RS loves blowing up old, useless dams. And apparently so does the federal government. Look here at the Condit Dam recently breeched by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore salmon waters in Washington State.

In North Carolina there is much gnashing of regulatory teeth and pulling of agency hair regarding the potential for a dam removal to make the water “turbid” (muddy) for some time during removal. As a result, and with some justification, RS dam removals have been managed with very little sediment released.  We drain the bathtub slooooowly.

Out West this did not appear to be much of a problem. My educated guess is that the sediment release pictured here at the Condit Dam would be considered “catastrophic” in the Old North State (by the same federal government that pulled the plug on Condit).

Each dam removal has its own special constraints and trade-offs. And I do not begrudge the federal sponsors their ability to break a few eggs when making an omelet of the White Salmon River. But it is amazing how one procedure can be employed in one area — and considered horrific in another.

Mag: RS Dam Removals Restoring Life to Once Drowned Rivers

Wildlife in North Carolina recently published an article on a subject dear to the Swamp Merchant’s heart. Lynette Batt of American Rivers has written a wonderful piece on the benefits, history, and challenges of dam removal in the Old North State. RS’ removal of the Carbonton and Lowell dams figure prominently in the article. We were particularly gratified to see crack river ecologist and RS contractor Tim Savidge, of the Catena Group, quoted regarding the terrific ecological results from the two projects. Both of our removals have resulted in the recolonization of formerly stagnant, deep water impoundments with federally endangered river species. The staggering ability of these rivers to renew themselves (with a little help from RS) is a story that cannot be told too many times:

Savidge notes that “the removal of the Carbonton Dam has resulted in recolonization of the former impoundment by a number of rare freshwater mussel species such as the yellow lampmussel, Savannah lilliput and notched rainbow.” He reports another major success for a federally endangered species, the Tar River spiny mussel, which was found in August 2010 in the former impoundment of the Lowell Dam on the Little River. That makes it the second endangered species found in any stream restoration site in North Carolina.
— Quoted in “Removing Dams, Restoring Rivers”

Removing Dams Restoring Rivers-Feb 2011- FINAL

Raleigh News and Observer: Plan for Little River dam sets up a fight

Raleigh News & Observer: Plan for Little River dam sets up a Fight