The second-largest river in California has sustained Native American tribes with plentiful salmon for millennia, provided upstream farmers with irrigation water for generations and served as a haven for retirees who built dream homes along its banks.
The "Gentle lady" from Eastern Washington is not deterred by scientific fact.
Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) leftover from processes at paper mills operating on the river beginning in the 1950s is the primary concern targeted in the cleanup.
The Klamath is both an important source of irrigation water and critical spawning ground for steelhead, lamprey and five species of Pacific salmon.
If she wins, the 38-year-old Democrat would become the country's first Native American governor. Can a moderate still win in Trump's America? Idaho is about to find out.
Annapolis, Md.—DJ Buckley spent most of his afternoon on Aug. 3 picking up branches and debris out of the Annapolis Harbor.
High hazards, low funding<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODY2ODEzNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5NDg2NzYzMH0.shi4NnuD2tU6BCljYLqTd2Wvd6_XX5PDkOfdPM0u9bs/img.jpg?width=980" id="6c690" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f7483a6eedbbc452c314f9957e6c3365" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Debris from Annapolis Harbor. (Credit: Heather Mongilio)<p>There are more than 90,000 dams in the U.S., according to the National Inventory of Dams, which is kept by the Army Corps of Engineers. Approximately 15,500 of them are classified as high hazard, meaning in the case of failure, at least one life could be lost.</p><p>According to the Association of Dam Safety Officials, the average age of dams in the U.S. is 56 years old. By 2025, seven out of 10 dams will be 50 or older. </p><p>It would take approximately $22 billion to rehabilitate the most critical dams, according to the Association. </p><p>While the Army Corps keeps track of the amount of high, significant and low-hazard dams in the country, the individual hazard potential for each dam is not available for the public, Kathryn Van Marter, a spokeswoman with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told EHN in an email.</p><p>But of the 15,498 high hazard dams in the country, 4,861 do not have emergency action plans or an emergency action plan is not required. Take Rhode Island: 79 of its 96 high hazard dams do not have emergency action plans. </p><p>"With the changing climate and the more intense rainstorms that we're getting, a lot of these dams were never designed to handle the kind of water we're going to be getting in the years to come," David Chopy, chief of the Office of Compliance and Inspection for Rhode Island, told EHN.</p><p>But Rhode Island is not alone. Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and New Mexico have more high hazard dams without an emergency action plan than dams that do, according to the National Index of Dams. In Georgia, Indiana and Missouri, the majority of the dams are not required to have such a plan. </p><h3><em>Related: </em><a href="https://www.ehn.org/bringing-back-freshwater-mussels-2590423532.html" target="_self"><em>Bringing back natural water filters in Maryland and beyond</em></a></h3><p>That's just for high-hazard dams. There are also nearly 12,000 dams in the U.S. that are considered significant hazard, which means that they wouldn't cause potential loss of life, but they can cause economic and environmental distress if they fail. There are seven states that have more significant-hazard dams without emergency plans than dams that do. </p><p>Dams in Rhode Island are required to be inspected every two years if they are high hazard and every five years for significant hazard dams, Chopy said. But whether the dams are fixed after inspection is up to the owners.</p><p>The dam situation in Rhode Island is representative of dams across the U.S. Most dam owners are private and funding is a concern, Ogden said. Chopy said the lack of funding was the reason most of the high hazard dams in the state do not have an emergency action plan. </p><p>"They're not cheap to fix, and a lot of the owners are private property owners, and they don't have that kind of money to fix the dams. Even the ones that are owned by public entities, the cities and towns and the state, it's difficult to come up with that money to fix the dams," he said. </p><p>Every state but Alabama has some type of regulatory plan that allows for dam inspections, Ogden said.</p><p>There is a statewide dam inventory to identify and document dams that might be high-hazard, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs spokesman Josh Carples told EHN in an email. </p>
Why dams fail<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODY2ODEzNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTQwNTEyMX0.mVqt1W90ckHg_QFMELzcYedmK__7gXJpOwydrc1PTpM/img.jpg?width=980" id="5f152" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3bb5e1a1a8a33e29247d241a311bbe61" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Conowingo Dam (Credit: Heather Mongilio)<p>A dam failure, as defined by the Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety, is a sudden, rapid and uncontrolled release of water, Van Marter said. A breach is an opening in the dam that allows uncontrolled draining.</p><p>Dams can fail a number of ways, Ogden said. Typically with a heavy flood, the spillway system will be topped, especially in dams that are poorly designed. Dams can be eroded by water, which would allow water to spill over. </p><p>And other natural disasters, like earthquakes, can damage them as well.</p><p>In addition, old dams weren't built to today's standards, Ogden said. The Army Corps of Engineers released the most recent <a href="https://www.publications.usace.army.mil/Portals/76/Publications/EngineerRegulations/ER_1110-2-1156.pdf" target="_blank">safety guidelines</a> for dams in 2014, but it notes that the federal organization has very limited control over repairs to non-federal dams. FEMA also has guidelines for <a href="https://damsafety.org/sites/default/files/FEMA_FederalGuidelines_93.pdf" target="_blank">dam safety.</a></p><p>Ogden said dams might need upgrades that they might not receive. Others just might not be maintained, which makes dams more likely to fail. </p><p>Others have seen an increase in hazard potential, Ogden said, due to added development around a dam. </p>
Heading for heavier rains<p>University of Connecticut professor Guiling Wang told EHN that climate models predict <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate3239" target="_blank">heavier rains on a global scale</a>. Wang, who published a 2017 article in <em>Nature</em> about temperature and precipitation, said that as the water cycle changes because of the warmer climate, the atmosphere can hold more water.</p><p>The increase in extreme precipitation can come at the expense of light or moderate precipitations, which might explain why there will be periods of no rain followed by intense downpours, according to Wang's Nature article.</p><p>However, the heavier rains are correlated with increased temperatures below a threshold. When temperatures reach above a threshold, there tends to be less rain. </p><p>That can lead to more rain over a short period of time or rain that doesn't stop, she said. On a global scale, Wang said she expects to see rain increase by 2 percent to 4 percent. And it's likely to lead to flooding, something that's already happening. </p>
Pollution pressure<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODY2ODEzOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDgyMTgwN30.WiYERoDBM6pNZciWh45NQDWeaE9w2-Ef37CXQjeXMHc/img.jpg?width=980" id="ae132" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1b34e246dd24bb4694dda565aceb6143" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Conowingo Dam floodgates open. (Credit: Heather Mongilio)<p>The Association of State Dam Safety Officials has a list of resources for people who live near dams. Ogden said it's important for people find out if there's a dam nearby and if that dam has an emergency action plan. </p><p>A good plan would have areas marked for flood risks and evacuations.</p><p>"I think the big thing people should do is be aware," Ogden said. </p><p>While hazard potentials are determined by loss of life or economic consequences following a failure, when dams fail or have to open floodgates, there can be environmental consequences.</p><p>"Environmental impacts of dam failure can include transport of sediment excess downstream, habitat loss, severe bank erosion and scouring, and contamination of environmentally sensitive areas," Van Marter said. </p><p>Franchot called the debris in the Annapolis harbor a "catastrophe." Maryland officials also called on Exelon, the operators of the Exelon dam to help with cleanup efforts.</p><p>"Parts of the Chesapeake Bay look like the aftermath of D-Day. It's disgusting," Franchot said. </p><p>The Conowingo Dam is not a source of the pollution, Exelon spokesman Paul Adams told EHN in an email.</p><p>"The debris currently in the Chesapeake Bay is a direct byproduct of record rain in the region," he said in the email.</p><p>It's clear that extreme rain and weather will come, and the debris that came through the Conowingo Dam is an example of why more pollution measures are needed, Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles told EHN. </p><p>Immediately after the pollution in the harbor, the focus was on cleanup. But a longer term strategy will focus more attention to the entire watershed, Grumbles said. </p><p>"It's clear that more precipitation, more runoff, more extreme weather is in store for the Bay and the tributaries to the Bay, so this is a shining example for the need for pollution prevention measures upstream and at the Conowingo Dam itself," he said.</p>
We try our best to present the honest news on environment, health and climate on these pages every day.
Clean energy is not looking back<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODY0NjkxNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODYwNDEwMX0.dKuepi1OCllcHZRAWzLy1FSQVOYYplzg4SWqxgsdNY8/img.jpg?width=980" id="7dc9a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="abbffbbf4a2aaac664bd618321e100a4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Edison Sub-District Office District 4 United Steelworkers<p>During the first "Energy Crisis" of the 1970's, President Richard Nixon dismissed calls for investment in wind and solar energy as an unrealistic pitch for technologies widely seen to be "30 years off."</p><p>Nearly 50 years later, we're about to make a semi-honest man out of Nixon, at least on this one point. <a href="http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180822-why-china-is-transforming-the-worlds-solar-energy?ocid=twert" target="_blank">China leads the world</a> in solar energy development; in the U.S., Wal-Mart, long held as an environmental villain, has <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2015/11/04/walmarts-everyday-renewable-energy/#58cc733f4a30" target="_blank">covered the roofs</a> of its big box stores with solar panels. </p><p>Traditional oil and gas states like Texas and Oklahoma are cashing in on windpower, while offshore windfarms are jumping off the drawing board in <a href="https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/new-jersey/2018/09/05/wind-turbines-could-dot-atlantic-city-shore-2020/1197566002/" target="_blank">New Jersey</a> and New England.</p>
Love that Dirty Water no more<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d75dc085d757459b809959058f9b7e3a"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5apEctKwiD8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The 1966 song <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5apEctKwiD8" target="_blank">"Dirty Water"</a> immortalized the condition of Boston's Harbor and Charles River. Twenty-two years later, George H.W. Bush used Boston Harbor's filth as a campaign issue against Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis in the 1988 presidential race. Today, the Harbor is vastly cleaner, and this summer, humpback whales cavorted in that once-dirty water.</p><p>And the Hudson River is said to be its cleanest in 100 years. While still hosting PCB's dumped by two General Electric factories in the mid-twentieth centuries, <a href="https://mic.com/articles/190728/the-hudson-river-isnt-as-gross-as-you-think-what-a-huge-oyster-says-about-the-quality-of-nyc-water#.OTHifeiSH" target="_blank">the river sees fewer sewage and chemical discharges.</a></p><p>A few miles away, the Hackensack Meadowlands are recovering from more than two centuries of being on the receiving end of a massive industrial bowel movement from the Metro New York area. </p><p>Sewage, toxic chemicals, garbage, and the occasional Mafia corpse were Meadowlands trademarks. These days, you're more likely to see kayakers tracking migratory birds than the remains of Jimmy Hoffa. Last week, the annual <a href="https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/environment/2018/09/12/meadowlands-now-haven-birds-according-audubon/1123676002/" target="_blank">Meadowlands Birding Festival</a> drew hundreds of birders from all over the U.S.</p><p>Similarly, the decades-long cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay is paying off. The Bay's leading NGO says the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/06/15/the-chesapeake-bay-hasnt-been-this-healthy-in-33-years-scientists-say/?utm_term=.b03ebda4bae6" target="_blank">Chesapeake is cleaner now</a> than any point in the past 33 years. </p>
Big (Green) Brother<p>Imagine you're a Texas State Trooper. Now imagine you're the <em>only</em> Texas State Trooper, responsible for patrolling from El Paso to Brownsville to Port Arthur to Lubbock and back again to catch speeders and other desperadoes. </p><p>The island nation of Palau had a problem with illegal fishing in its marine sanctuary, which is roughly the size of Texas. Palau's budget stretched to afford staffing one patrol boat.</p><p>Now imagine you've got an eye in the sky – satellite monitoring that can cover Palau's sprawling Pacific expanse. Environmental monitoring from the sky, pioneered by nonprofits like the West Virginia-based <a href="https://www.skytruth.org/" target="_blank">SkyTruth</a>, can help snag today's eco-desperadoes – illegal logging, destructive mining, and pirate fishing. </p><p>In 2017, <a href="https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/supply-trade/palau-tackles-iuu-fishing-with-innovative-technologies-and-partnerships" target="_blank">satellite monitoring helped the Palauans nab a pirate fleet from Vietnam.</a> The mighty Palauan Navy seized the vessels and burned them.</p>
Liberating rivers<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODY0NjkyMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTM1Njc4OH0.jfXU9eS6YqWZqAywU6BcWYrJMH4mGEK1cjuvKiI44-k/img.jpg?width=980" id="fd771" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="785bcbacd383159b14be25cac680e030" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Pelennor/flickr<p>Work to remove two dams on the Elwha River in Washington State's Olympic Peninsula began in 2011. <a href="http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/may/29/nature-can-do-most-of-the-work-for-you-once-floode/" target="_blank">With nature taking the lead</a>, both the riverbed and salmon runs are coming back. The Elwha and Glines Canyon dams were hydroelectric assets that grew obsolete over the decades.</p><p>In places like <a href="https://www.pressherald.com/2015/09/27/a-river-revived-the-penobscot-river-two-years-after-dams-removal/" target="_blank">Maine's Penobscot River</a>, ancient former industrial workhorse dams are coming down. Demolition of Maryland's <a href="https://www.pressherald.com/2015/09/27/a-river-revived-the-penobscot-river-two-years-after-dams-removal/" target="_blank">Bloede Dam</a> is underway this month.</p><p>On the Chattahoochee River, two more obsolete hydro dams were removed several years ago, creating a whitewater tourist attraction in downtown Columbus, Georgia. <a href="https://www.apnews.com/eeb77171a680447eb969a9021b80afed" target="_blank">Another dam project is underway</a> on the Oconee River, near the University of Georgia in Athens.</p><p>In Chile, the government <a href="https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/06/140610-chile-hidroaysen-dam-patagonia-energy-environment/" target="_blank">yielded to public pressure in 2014</a>, cancelling a multi-billion dollar project to build five dams on two pristine rivers in Patagonia.</p><p>So there you have a partial list of some of the breakthroughs and victories in environment and energy. I'm looking forward to writing about more, and would welcome your suggestions. My email is <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank">email@example.com</a></p><p>And when you're feeling cynical, remember this: If we play our cards right, all the acid we're putting in the ocean will eat all the plastic we're putting in the ocean.</p><p><strong><em>*The song "Dirty Water" was performed by the Standells, a teenage garage band from L.A. that had never set foot in Boston or its filthy harbor. The song never made the Top Thirty, but remains as an anthem today for Boston sports teams. The video above shows also one of the worst efforts at lip-synching in history.</em></strong></p>
Four of the fellows who participated in the program this year will discuss their ongoing research, activism, and experiences with publishing their ideas in the public sphere.
With job loss and stifled development in the renewable energy sector, economists, politicians, and advocates say policy action is necessary to stay on track.