I am reading the book “Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming, and the Future of Water In The West” by James Lawrence Powell. Though not with this book, water rights was a topic in my Environmental Policy class that I took last year. With only 20 pages left to read I’ve been quite surprised by what I learned.
Maybe hydro-electric power isn’t so clean after all. The lakes behind dams slowly (or quickly depending on a number of factors) fill up with sediment which causes the reservoirs to hold less and less water. Eventually the silt deposits get high enough at the bottom of the reservoirs that the generators are blocked and there is no power generated at all. The water released during generation comes from the bottom of the lake which causes the river to be colder that normal in the summer and warmer than normal in the winter. This directly affects the type of flora and fauna found downstream. These issues I was previously aware of however I did not know that the salinity of the water is also affected. With each dam that river water has to pass through, salinity in ppm increases. This knowledge adds a new parameter that I will use in my research.
Reading a book about the politics and ecology of the convoluted water rights system in the U.S. may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like that sort of thing, I highly recommend this book.
On a lighter note, the link below takes you to a blog from a scientist that has discovered greater diversity than expected.