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We are well aware of dams in India and also that our country India holds the third position in building the largest dam in the world after China and the US. Dams are important as they store water. But, it is found that they also have detrimental effects on ecosystem and environment. Is there any alternatives for dams? Let’s discuss it below.
What are Dams?
Dams are generally defined as the barriers that are built to hold back water. Thus the water can be stored for human use and the formation of flood can be prevented. It is also used for the production of hydroelectric power. It also provides water for different activities such as irrigation, human consumption, industrial use, aquaculture, and navigability.
Dams are important to our country and pose problems as well like, they change the ecosystem of the rivers, high cost for constructing the dam, they must be operated for many several years to become profitable, restoration after serious geological damage, flooding of large areas due to sudden opening of dams leading to deaths etc.
Alternatives to Dams
Keeping in mind the considerable disadvantages related to dams, one does consider the alternatives that might be feasible. Dams are known to alter the natural flow regime and with it virtually every aspect of a river ecosystem, including water quality, sediment transport, deposition, fish migrations and reproduction, floodplain habitat and the organisms that rely on this habitat. Not to mention about the felling of trees which increase green house gas emission and replacing the native people for construction of dams. Hence, we must comprehend that dams seem to be the way out to meet the growing demand for water. Regardless of the fact that the demand is new as a result of population growth or to get used to the changed run-off patterns of precipitation causing a change in the climate. For these alternatives to actually stand a chance, one must first understand the requirements of water for the community.
Once the demand is understood, we can proceed to the alternatives that are feasible in nature. Water conservation and efficient use of water is not a topic to be trifled with, not is it one to be extensively discussed, going ahead with the assumption that we are educated enough to comprehend its importance.
The reuse of water or reclamation or water recycling corresponds to the reuse of treated sewage, greywater or stormwater for non-potable activities, namely industrial processes, irrigation, toilet flushing, and fire protection among others. Another option is groundwater recharge which involves reloading underground water sources in a wet year or in a season of water availability. Re-operation of existing dams is quite a good option. In the sense, altering the way an already existing dam is utilized is usually cheaper and less harmful to our environment compared to constructing a new dam and in most cases re-operating a dam goes to mean that it can provide water for farms, cities, and fish in dire times of the year without any major drawbacks from energy production, environmental or flood protection aspects.
Also Read: List of Largest dams in India
Important Questions for you
What are the benefits of dams?
There are numerous economic benefits from dams. They are multi-purpose, as the majority of the dams are built for irrigation and hydropower. Nearly one-fifth of the world’s electricity is generated from dams. Dams also protect us from floods, supplies water to cities, and also support river navigation.
Which is the oldest dam in the world?
Jawa Dam is the world’s oldest dam dating back to the fourth millennium BC. This dam is on the remains of an ancient location in Jordan, 100 km away from the capital Amman. Lake Homs Dam is the oldest operational dam, located in Syria.
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Frequently Asked Questions on Alternatives to Dams
Are there any alternatives for water conservation other than dams?
The alternatives are – Reuse of treated sewage, storm water or greywater for non-potable activities, Groundwater recharge, Rainwater harvesting, Re-operation of existing dams
What are the disadvantages of dams?
The disadvantages of dams are:
- They alter the natural flow regime of a river ecosystem
- It affects the sediment transport and deposition, fish migrations and reproduction, floodplain habitat and the organisms that rely on rivers.
- High cost for construction
- Felling of trees which increase greenhouse gas emission
- Replacing the native people