Marc Reisner's Coming Undammed
A dam is a barrier constructed across a waterway to control the flow or raise the level of water. (Dictionary 1) They are put in place with much care and patience. A dam is very carefully planned out. Where they are going to be placed? What type of soil it is going to be constructed in? When the plans are drawn out, every detail is gone over with a fine tooth comb. Marc Reisner has written an essay titled Coming Undammed, is an essay about him talking how he supports dam removals across the country. He has made some ideas about why he sustains his opinion, some of which I agree with, but mainly I oppose.
He starts off by talking about a dam that he had visited on the Elwha River, which has two dams within it. In the upper part of the river, the Glines Canyon dam, and in the lower dam just called the Elwha. His first point against the building of dams is how the silt in the ground surrounding this dam has begun to leak into the dam. Which he says will lead to big slurrying of the water and will eventually “add millions of dollars to the cost of decommissioning.” (Reisner 382) This may be the case, but is only the case in this instance that he has come across. The ground of all other dams is not made up of the same material as every other dam in the nation. The dirt in New York doesn’t have the same makeup as the dirt of the Hoover dam in Nevada.
The next idea that he had for opposing dams are the expunging of fisheries where the dams are. He gave the example of how “before the dams went in, the Elwha River churned out salmon as the Chesapeake Bay did crabs.” (Reisner 382) He also goes on to say that the fish were large and there were several types of fish with in the river. He concludes this point by saying that when the dams were built up, it shut off the fish habitation within the river and reducing the fish numbers. I agree that with him that the number of fish would be decreased with a dam being built. I think that the amount wouldn’t be that high to cause a major problem.