The bureaucratic, expensive and often contentious world of hydropower relicensing
This post is part of Climate Watch’s series, “Water and Power.”
Just so we all start on the same page: there are a lot of dams in California. People have been building dams here since the Gold Rush, and though the dam building boom of the first half of the 20th century is long-over, the dams are still here.
This animation shows all the dams in California. To see a breakdown of which ones are connected to hydropower projects (and which rivers in California remain undammed), explore the Water and Power map. Graphics produced by Don Clyde. Research by Lisa Pickoff-White.
When people began building dams in California, they probably were probably mostly thinking about gold. Later, they had more lofty ideals: controlling floods, supplying water to cities and farms, generating electricity.
One thing they probably weren’t thinking much about: pond turtles. Until recently. Continue reading
Memo to anglers: If you’re wondering why they’re not biting, it may be because they’re not there. Little noticed this week was a report from the U.S. Geological Survey, detailing the staggering losses that freshwater fish species have suffered across the U.S. The report describes nearly 40% of North America’s freshwater fishes as “imperiled.” The figure represents a 92% increase over a similar survey done in 1989 by the American Fisheries Society, which participated in the new report. USGS director Mark Myers cited loss of habitat and invasive species as primary causes for the decline but noted that “climate change may further affect these fish.” The news is worse for California, as topping the Survey’s at-risk list are “salmon and trout of the Pacific Coast and western mountain regions.”
Release of the report followed by one day Terry Root’s keynote presentation at the California Climate Change Conference, in which the Stanford researcher warned of a catastrophic loss of trout habitat in California, due in part to climate change.