The SRP currently includes work with 29 dams on eight rivers around the United States.
Learn more about how we are working with the Army Corps of Engineers to find sustainable solutions to river health.
The advantages of making systematic changes in dam operations to more efficiently achieve multiple benefits have been demonstrated through more than a decade of national collaboration between the Corps, the Conservancy, and other partners under the Sustainable Rivers Project (SRP).
For example, water releases from Kentucky’s Green River Dam were revised in coordination with downstream landowners who willingly changed how they used their floodplain property. The revised releases keep lake levels higher longer into the fall, thereby extending recreation six weeks each year and boosting related jobs and revenue. Moreover, the new release schedule maintains flood protection and helps improve water quality, saving cities money when treating drinking water from the Green River.
On Arizona’s Bill Williams River, a tributary of the Colorado River, changes in dam operations have been coordinated with dam operations on the Colorado River, which enables more water storage behind dams on the Colorado during prolonged droughts. The revised flows have also brought life back into a floodplain forest that was in steep decline, but now provides habitat for more than 350 species of birds and supports a related tourism industry that draws hundreds of thousands of people to the state each year.
The SRP currently involves 29 dams on eight rivers across 12 states. Other demo sites rivers include:
Imagine if similar benefits could be realized elsewhere. There are 472 reservoirs in the U.S. containing Congressionally-authorized flood storage that ranges from 32 to 48 trillion gallons – enough to meet the annual water supply needs of 900 million people. With 116 of the 472 reservoirs also actively generating hydropower, significant increases in electricity production could be realized without large investments in new infrastructure. And local communities would benefit from enhanced recreation and the improved health and productivity of tens of thousands of river miles across the country.
While the Corps has restricted authorities to modify dam operations, the agency does not have a specific program dedicated to finding opportunities to update operations in order to deliver greater benefits to society. A national Sustainable Rivers Program – one that can work across the Corps and with local communities across the country – will enable the Corps and its partners to revitalize our water infrastructure and provide substantial economic, social and environmental returns today and well into the future
* A national survey of registered voters conducted in 2009 by Democratic polling firm Fairbank, Maslin, & Associates (FMM&A) and Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies (POS) to gauge support for increased investments in the protection of land, water, and wildlife.June 10, 2013
Nature Conservancy Contacts
Senior Advisor for Water Management
email@example.com / 814.863.2506
Mark P. Smith
Deputy Director, North America Freshwater Program
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