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USGS CMG InfoBank: Dams

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Comment: 13:34 - 14:34 (01:00)
Source: Annenberg/CPB Resources - Earth Revealed 24, Waves, Beaches and Coasts
Keywords: "James Sadd", dam, lake, flood, water, irrigation, sediment, transportation, river, beach, reservoir, humans, "fresh water"

Our transcription: Dams are another example of our attempts to control natural processes.
These structures serve a variety of valuable functions: the generation of hydroelectric power, the establishment of lakes for recreational purposes, and, in this case, flood control and the storage of water for drinking and irrigation.
Despite their value, dams are not without significant drawbacks.
Sediment that is normally carried down-river to the beaches is trapped in the reservoir instead.
Beaches that don't receive a steady supply of river sediment will soon disappear.
It is tempting to cast people with the villains in this apparent conflict with nature, but the issue is not that simple.
What would happen if we didn't dam rivers?
Would we be willing to risk the exposure to catastrophic floods and to give up the electrical power and the fresh water that dams provide?
If not, is the damage they cause to coastal property and to the beach environment too high a price to pay?
These are difficult choices, and there are no perfect solutions.

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