NWNL Watershed Updates
USA: WA, Snake River Basin, Lower Granite Dam. Photo by Barbara Briggs Folger.
NWNL has explored several issues this year related to dams in our 3 North American case study watersheds and California’s Central Valley. Dams each have their own stories and reason for being. And it seems that each has caused degradation to ecosystem and riverine functions to some extent or another.
Columbia River Basin
We visited the Columbia River Basin twice this year for: 
  • a one-month NWNL Snake River Expedition in May which focused on the questionable sustainability of the lower four Snake River Dams
  • the 2014 Columbia River Basin Transboundary Conference in Spokane which discussed the future of the 50-year-old Canadian-US Columbia River Treaty and other transboundary issues, especially facilitating the passage of salmon to spawning habitats beyond the Grand Coulee Dam
TAKE ACTION: Sign the Petition to Crack Drown on Deadbeat Dams!
Mississippi River Basin
A one-month expedition this fall to the Lower Mississippi River Basin studied many issues, including the fact that Mississippi Delta lands are being lost at the rate of 1 football field per hour. There are 4 reasons for this: 
  • USACE dams upstream allow barge traffic to travel this river highway; but those dams and levees block natural sediment flow downstream to replenish coastal lands
  • Climate Change: Sea level rise and erosion from more intense storms
  • The degrading “lacework” of Delta lands created by oil and gas canals built to access to rigs but never removed
  • The subsidence (lowering or capsizing) of land due to cavities created underground where oil and gas reserves have been emptied

“The Great Invisible” adds to the land loss issues described above as it addresses the BP oil spill and responsibilities of oil and gas industries to repair damages incurred during extraction to fisheries, local livelihoods and residents’ health to the land loss issues described above. 

CA: Santa Ynez, Lake Cachuma reservoir with no water. Photo by Alison M. Jones.
NWNL Spotlight on the California Drought
 In March and in late November NWNL is documenting the Central Valley and San Joaquin River Basin 3-year drought. Again, the question of dams comes up as farmers and those addressing this and likely future droughts plead for more storage dams to be built. However others respond by saying you can’t store rain and snow melt if there is none.
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