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Sustainable dams – are they possible?

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Humans have been altering natural waterways for centuries, but only in the last several decades have dams raised ecological concerns.

N. LeRoy Poff, professor of biology at Colorado State University, studies the ecological impact to rivers from human-caused changes, such as dam building, and how these modified river systems can be managed for resilience.

In a Dec. 8 Perspective piece in the journal Science, Poff, an expert in hydroecology and determining environmental flow needs for rivers, writes on the state of research in sustainable dam design. He highlights a new tool that researchers at Arizona State University are proposing for engineering river flows in Southeast Asia in order to sustain the economically and culturally important natural floodplain fisheries of the region.

“As a researcher, I am concerned about biodiversity conservation, and about sustaining rivers at a level of functional integrity that enables them to provide both biodiversity support as well as ecosystem goods and services,” said Poff, who also holds a partial appointment in riverine science at Australia’s University of Canberra. “I’m interested in where those intersect.”

Continue reading at Colorado State University

Image via Colorado State University