Smithsonian: Removing a Dam can be a Net Win for the Planet

Americans have been building dams to harness rivers for energy production, irrigation, flood control and water storage since the late 1800s. To fuel a growing appetite for electricity, dam building reached a crescendo around World War II. At the time, hydropower provided three-quarters of the West’s electricity and one-third of the country’s, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

But its grip on the country’s power grid has slipped amid competing energy sources, and today hydropower provides just one-tenth of the country’s electricity.

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