Removal of dams on Lower Snake River Research Paper


A dam can be defined as a water reservoir that is dug from the earth in order to collect rain water or store some of diverted river water in order to be put into a specific use or various uses.

Usually, dams have various uses such as storage of water for agricultural irrigation, provides water for livestock, control rates of flow downstream, fish rearing, provision for recreational facilities, generation of hydro power and some act as tourist attraction sites thus earning foreign currency. Deconstructing an already built dam to put the river into other uses can have great negative costs especially to the country’s economy and more so to the people adjacent to the project area.

Why the dams should remain

A plan to breach the four dams on the Snake River downstream will not be an exception; rather it will have negative impacts on the people who depend on it for different purposes for example; a source of water for irrigation, generation of hydro-electrical power and opportunities for employment to the locals hence generation of capital to run other businesses (Price Para 4).

Conservation for natural ecology is paramount in the preservation of the environment, although these dams have affected the survival for salmon in the lake which has some important value and attachment to the people’s culture re, it will require consideration on other significances of the dam in order to decide on their fate.

All the stake holders should be careful to identify the losses and the gains they will attain by the dams being breached and vote wisely (Price Para 8). Although removal of these dams will have other importance such as improving water quality and encouraging fishing industry, they can not be compared with the economic havoc this action will cause.

Although the number of jobs lost is overestimated by the corps (Whitelaw, 4), it is a fact that long term jobs will be lost and short term ones created until the time the dams will have completely been removed in order to create other long term jobs. Breaching will not only have negative impacts but also some positive ones, although human needs are necessary to consider first rather than the salmon.

Dams have a significance of contributing towards creation of hydropower which is a renewable and a clean source of energy meaning that it has no negative environmental effects. Running river water is important for power generation though it is necessary to have storage facilities in order to create a water head required to generate power (US Army corps of engineers, 5).

Dams constructed for power generation can also be used for other different uses such as rearing of fish, navigation recreation and many more, this is due to their reduced flows during high peaks and the way they regulate flow either during the dry or the wet season thus ensuring continuity.

When corps constructed these dams, the cost of construction was low as compared to the current cost, secondly, the power plant does not need any running fuel, their running cost is least as compared to fossil fuels and these makes it a cost effective source of energy to both the locals and the nation at large.

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This has a positive contribution to the country’s economy. Instead of breaching the dams in order to bring back the disappearing salmon species into the rivers, measures can be put into place so as to ensure their reinstallation and survival of other water species such as pumping oxygen into the waters when the dissolved amounts are low while ensuring all other activities they were constructed for are in place.

Hydro power doesn’t cause environmental pollution as there are no gases such as carbon dioxide produced which contribute greatly towards global warming. Other sources of energy need to be combined with hydropower for their efficiency. These dams are of great economic value to the country and need to be perpetuated for power provision efficiencies (Factsheet, 2).

Scientists suggest that the revival of these endangered species solely lie on the removal of the dams since the current river conditions can not allow their survival. Redirecting the river to its normal conditions will be the only solution to this problem and this will only be possible by removing the dams (Williams, Behnek, 2).

Other considerations such as removal of one dam instead of all in order to balance between power generation and salmon and steelhead preservation. Experiments should be conducted first by creating separate habitats for the species and examining their survival and multiplication in order to understand the rate at which they can be reinstated. Predators should be monitored especially on the rate at which they attack the specie (Preusch, 2).

All efforts should be ensured with an aim of preserving these dams because of the great value they have to the individuals and and the nation too. Although they have a hand in the extinction of these species, measures should be devised so as to ensure that the efforts to preserve them do not outplay the role these dams play such as provision of safe, cheap and clean source of energy.

Removal of dams have various positive consequences and are well known for their success in the restoration of the original ecology, but the removal process have to be accurate failure to which, many negative impacts result such as siltation which can be hazardous to both the human settlement around because of floods that result from water that flows out of the silt up dams. Siltation can also be dangerous to the species in these dams, therefore, proper plans and steps should be considered.

Also, not all dams are insignificant, and when choosing on these approach, research should be conducted first with an aim of getting the importance of all the involved dams so as to consider removal of the insignificant ones (Dam removal success stories, 21). Removal of dams is not a perfect solution to the problem, other measures to ensure the survival and continuity of the salmon exist, and their implementation is what remains a nightmare thus, fostering the continued extinction of the species from the river (Kalo, 21).

Habitats for salmon can be ensured by use of technologies such as power turbines that can allow for their free movement from the dam to the river and vice versa. Both the state and all the stake holders should come up with policies to ensure that people’s culture such as the Indians treasure for salmon and other purposes for dam construction are taken care off in order to provide a peaceful co-existence.


In conclusion,the four dams play a great role in promoting the economy of the nation and conservation of a clean environment. Comparing the value of salmon and the steelhead and the cultural significance attached to them with the significance of the dams, it is better to have the dams remain in place as other measures are sought to preserve the endangered species. I will therefore, vote no for their breaching.

Works Cited

Dam removal success stories: Restoring Rivers through selective removal of dams that don’t make sense, 1999.

Factsheet, Myths and facts about the lower Snake River dams, 2006.

Kalo Yogh, Salmon restoration, 1995.

Preusch, Matt. Oregeon environmental news, 2009.

Price, Paul, P. The River Dammed: Proposed Removal of the Lower Snake River Dams. n.d. US Army Corps of engineers. Hydropower; value to the nation. n.d. Whitelaw, Ed. Breaching dam myths, 2000.

Williams, Richard. Behnke, Robert. A letter from 200 scientists, 1999.