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Anecdotes from the Archive

Happy 100th, Roosevelt Dam!

Scientific American magazine cover-Roosevelt Dam

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Roosevelt Dam in Arizona. It was a major part of the Salt River project, which aimed to create hydroelectric power from the Salt River and make its surrounding lands cultivable. The dam was an engineering marvel and was built as part of the Reclamation [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Giant Otters Damned by Giant Hydroelectric Dams

giant river otter

Mathematically speaking, the creation of the massive Balbina Hydroelectric Dam in Brazil should have been a boon to the giant river otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) that live in the area. The dam, which went online in 1989, created a reservoir more than 443,000 hectares in size. As the land behind the dam flooded, more than 3,500 [...]

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Solar Power Helped Keep the Lights On in India


Every day, at least 400 million Indians lack access to electricity. Another nearly 700 million Indians joined their fellows in energy poverty over the course of the last few days, or roughly 10 percent of the world’s population. Oddly enough, some of the formerly energy poor—rural villagers throughout the subcontinent—found themselves better off than their [...]

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More Dangerous Than Nuclear Power: The Floods Caused by Aging Dams [Video]

As the U.S. and China endure record-breaking floods this spring, there is a risk that is being overlooked amidst the inundated towns, evacuations and rising waters. Dams in the U.S. boast an average age of 50 years, and the American Society of Civil Engineers continues to give the nation’s dams a D grade overall in [...]

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