Impacts on Birds |
Gold Ray Dam by Oregon Hydroreform Coalition
the capture of the energy of moving water to turn an electricity-producing
turbine. The first hydroelectric power plant was built in
1882 in Appleton, Wisconsin to provide 12.5 kilowatts to light
two paper mills and a home. Today's hydropower plants generally
range in size from several hundred kilowatts to several hundred
megawatts, but a few mammoth plants have capacities up to
10,000 megawatts and supply electricity to millions of people.
The chief advantages of hydropower are the elimination of
the cost of fuel and the lack of production of any greenhouse
gasses. Hydroelectric plants also tend to have longer lives
than fuel-fired generation. Hydroelectric power facilities
in the United States generate enough power to supply 28 million
households with electricity, the equivalent of nearly 500
million barrels of oil.
Impacts on birds
Originally thought of as a clean, non-polluting, environmentally
friendly source of energy, experience is proving otherwise.
Valuable lowlands (which are usually the best farmland) are
flooded, destroying bird and other wildlife habitat, and displacing
bird populations. Where anadromous fish runs are involved
as in the Columbia River system with its 30 dams, the effect
on fish has been disastrous. In many cases, fish-eating birds
such as Caspian Terns have been scape-goated for these fish
declines, and populations have been reduced or physically
relocated as a result.
If reservoirs are involved in the
production of hydropower, as is frequently the case, hydropower
is not a renewable energy source. All reservoirs eventually
fill with sediment, limiting the generating life of the plant.
Some reservoirs have already filled, and many others are filling
faster than expected. In a few hundred years Glen Canyon Dam
and Hoover Dam will become concrete waterfalls.