The Thirsty U.S. West – Water Woes To Beget New Dams?

As reported in The Seattle Times, a booming population, droughts, and growing fears about climate change have regional governments once again studying dams, this time to create huge reservoirs to capture more winter rain and spring snowmelt for use in dry summer months.  This despite the fact that the era of massive dam construction in the West – which tamed rivers, swallowed towns, and created irrigated agriculture, cheap hydropower and persistent environmental problems – effectively ended in 1966 with the completion of Glen Canyon Dam.  As the article notes:

“…New dams are being studied in Washington state, California, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada and other states, even as dams are being torn down across the country over environmental concerns…

“The West and the Northwest are increasing in population growth like never before,” said John Redding, regional spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Boise. “How do you quench the thirst of the hungry masses?”

…Jay Manning, director of the Washington state Department of Ecology, believes that massive new dams on the main stems of rivers are unlikely. But it is quite possible that tributaries will be dammed, and reservoirs pumped full of river water.“It is inevitable we will take steps to increase water supply,” Manning said. “Storage is part of that solution.”

…In other states:

  • Four major water storage projects are being studied in California, including a proposal for a new dam on the San Joaquin River, said Sue McClurg, of the Water Education Foundation in Sacramento. Republicans in the California Assembly say they will block any plan to improve water supplies that doesn’t include new dams.
  • The Southern Nevada Water Authority, which serves Las Vegas, is considering a reservoir to capture more Colorado River water before it flows into Mexico.
  • In Colorado, there is a proposal to create two new reservoirs on the Yampa River.
  • In Idaho, some still hope to rebuild the Teton Dam, which collapsed in 1976, killing 11 people and causing widespread destruction.

In Washington, the water crisis is centered on the Columbia River basin and the adjacent Yakima River Basin…”

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 11th, 2008 at 7:12 pm and is filed under Colorado River, United States.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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