Saturday, August 23

DAM NATION: Film, discussion will examine river science

DAM NATION:  Film, discussion will examine river science
CARBONDALE, Ill. – A Southern Illinois University Carbondale graduate student organization wants the community to consider life without dams.

IGERT, the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship, teamed with Sierra Club: Shawnee Group, to bring the film “DamNation” to campus. The screening is from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Sept. 4, in the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library. A reception will follow the movie.  Representatives from IGERT and the Sierra Club: Shawnee Group will introduce the film, and IGERT members and faculty will be available to discuss and answer questions about river science and politics. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

The award-winning documentary focuses on the role river dams play in the ecosystem, and advocates for dam removal, particularly in cases where the structure is in need of costly and extensive repair. The filmmakers argue that removing dams from once-flowing rivers restores salmon especially, but other wild fish as well. The filmmakers also examine the economic advantages to healthy rivers, and address perceived benefits of dams, including hydropower, flood control and municipal water supply.

For centuries dams have been built for flood control, irrigation, municipal water supply and power production. All these needs can now be met more effectively through conservation, improved technology and better planning, without the negative ecological impacts caused by blocking and degrading an entire watershed. Of the more than 80,000 dams monitored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, roughly 26,000 pose what the Corps labels a “high” or “significant” hazard.

Some dams no longer serve any useful purpose. All dams, despite their size, have a limited life span. Only 2,540 dams in the U.S. generate hydropower, producing approximately nine percent of U.S. energy supply.

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