For Want of a Nail - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 11-13-2014   #1
 
cedar city, Utah
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For Want of a Nail

Wanted to respond to DroBoat without continuing the derailing of the "how to" thread:

Dam Removal as An Option

So, the dam removal along the Elwha is the most extensive one I am aware of (biggest in world history if I have read properly). The entire restoration is estimated at $325 million dollars (from purchasing power plants all the way to vegetation rehabilitation). The maximum catchment was limited to 280 sq miles (the limits of the Elwha drainage). The sediment contained behind both dams was to 13 million cubic yards. Included in the figure above was the $29 million dollar purchase of the 2 hydroelectric plants in 1992. (would be close to $50 million today). The two dams combined generated only 19 megawatts or roughly 172 million KW*h(according to survey required by 1992 Act) which equates to 1,100 to 1,200 homes served. The tallest of the two dams was 210 feet tall. The Elwha River is 45 miles long.

Compare that to Lake Powell:

108,300 sq mile catchment
Lake Powell is 186 miles long
710 feet tall
61 million cubic yards sediment load in Lake Powell Per Year
64 billion KW*h annually or roughly 320,000 homes (much less than stated capacity due to lake levels and operating capacity)(confusing statistics out there as each region consumes different power annually)

SO.....642 times bigger catchment; 5 times the sediment load in one year compared to almost a century of collection; and a power plant that generates 372 times as much power annually.

I don't remotely know how to calculate how much that would cost to demolish and rehabilitate but I think its fair to say....multiples times more than the Elwha and exponential more than the measly $750k per year they are investing in quagga programs. Take the $325 million for the Elwha....it would take 433 years to compare (current $750k). Even when the quaggas start to affect power generation to the levels of the Great Lakes we are talking 80 years of maintenance to compare to that outlandishly low estimate (at $4 million per year). Considering the scope of Lake Powell (ecologically and economically) we are likely looking at number well into the hundreds of billions of dollars. If you go on megawatt generation alone it would cost more than a billion to just outright buy the power plant (not likely a liner relationship).

None of those numbers include the need to generate water storage and power to offset the losses. The footwork there doesn't remotely favor your conclusions about the costs of quagga programs.

Thoughts?

Phillip

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Old 11-14-2014   #2
 
cedar city, Utah
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*Correction....BoR operates Glen Canyon Dam so a cost comparison is inaccurate in that regard, as far as purchasing. I would assume an Act of Congress would only need to pay back the remaining debt of construction but I am uncertain.
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Old 11-14-2014   #3
 
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
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While I am not a big fan of dams and the problems they create, I am realistic. It's not a simple as remove the dam and all problems go away.

Dams and the altered ecosystem they create are a reality in our Western states. The entire waterway below a major dam like Glen Canyon has been altered to coexist with the new reality of the dam. 60 years of development and growth has occurred along the waterway that now depend on the dam being there. Removing an existing dam has huge economic impact.

Removing a large dam will effect downstream communities that are no longer protected from seasonal flooding. Existing homes and structures would need to be relocated. Roads, highways and railways that follow the river would need to be relocated. For example: Most of the electrical power plants in East of the divide burn coal that is transported along the Colorado River on a railway bed that is only a few feet above the water. Take away the dams that protect it from flooding and Denver runs out of electricity.

Established businesses that depend on the water supply, such as agriculture, are the economic foundation for entire regions. Take the water away and some states no longer have an viable economy. Just this morning I heard on the radio that California, with it's dams, provides 50% of the fresh produce consumed in this country. That is a lot of food that will need to come from somewhere else.

As reluctant as I am to admit it, I actually benefit from some dams. There have been several threads recently celebrating the long boating season we have enjoyed this year. How many of those waters are sill flowing do to a dam? Do you really think Green River below Flaming Gorge would be running 1400 cfs in November if the dam was gone? How many whitewater companies would be in business if the season lasted just a few weeks instead of an entire summer? The typical rafting season on the free running Yampa ends in June, while the dam controlled flows on Gates of Ladore provide rafting opportunities well into July or August.

Dams are a serious problem that need national attention, but it is foolish to suggest that simply removing them fixes things.
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Old 11-14-2014   #4
 
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Belgrade, Montana
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Kengore,

EXCELLENT post!!!

Thanks Restrac for moving this discussion here and for your insightful thoughts on the economics. It's easy to RA-RA dam removal, but it's really not easy to remove dams...

As a geologist I typically look at the geologic/morphologic constraints of dam removal but the socioeconomic constraints are truly the most limiting factor.

Thanks again for the thoughtfull informative posts!

Brian
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Old 11-14-2014   #5
 
cedar city, Utah
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I will admit I find the issue and idea intriguing and have ever since I started exploring the canyons of the Escalante. They offer an interesting case study for the natural reclamation side canyons can provide over time. Granted, the photographic evidence below only works for drainages that are substantial, in the upper elevations of Lake Powell with relatively limited inundation and in these cases perennial flowing water.

PHOTOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTATION

On a some what side note...Bill Wolverton has shown what tireless and concerted efforts can do for ecosystems. He has worked for years now recruiting organizations and individuals to actively participate in the stewardship of the Escalante, especially in regards to invasive species. That said, its also frightening to see how much time they have put into the region and the relatively limited impact. When you consider the very shallow inundation (relative to the lower reaches of Lake Powell) the scale of the problem becomes unnerving and disheartening. The size of the sand banks in lower Cataract and say Diamond Down are telling. Their durability is profound.

I think its fair to conclude that there is nothing natural about what Glen Canyon would be if the dam was removed. Jumping from the largest removal of dams in human history, the Elwha River system at a mere 15 miles long, to something the scale of Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell is not something I am sure we are even capable of at this point, wether that be human (social, economic and political) systems or managing natural processes for reclamation. The lessons from the Elwha aren't remotely understood yet.

Phillip
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Old 11-14-2014   #6
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In Praise of Checkpoint Quagga

I'll leave you boys alone so you can proselytize the Wrecked worldview and praise your government masters.

All hail Floyd Dominy, the Wrecked Savior and Slayer of the Colorado River.
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Old 11-14-2014   #7
 
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
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Yes Droboat please leave.

In over 10 posts on several threads even remotely related to the topic you have failed to provide a single constructive comment. This kind of irrational chest thumping doesn't move towards a solution and make others think the entire boating community is full of wing nuts. Even when you are provided a new thread to express your limited opinion you find the time to clutter the other threads with your repetitive diatribe.

Yes we get it, you don't like dams. And you don't like anybody that doesn't agree with you.

Now shut up and let the the adults try to find a practical solution.
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Old 11-14-2014   #8
 
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Check into reality much?

So I posted the response to this quote (from the how to comply thread) here so as not to further derail that thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Droboat View Post
Restrac2000's obsequious, irrational and strident defense of Wrecked's dying Colorado River dam regime might explain his lack of any numbers showing the benefits of free rivers and a free society. Lots of words providing little more than an emotional defense of dams based on manifest destiny and religious belief, not facts.

No real numbers on costs and benefits of returning the Colorado River system and individual rights to a pre-dam regime as compared to the costs of setting up Checkpoint Quaggas to extend the failing Wrecked status quo. Pennies on the dollar is indeed pure bullshit.

I get it. Admitting the folly of the Wrecked dams and accepting that a totalitarian response to mussels is futile and counterproductive is upsetting to a belief system based on conquest and control. I didn't expect a rational response when I called bullshit. Wrecked and its apologists will keep on believing in the benevolence and resilience of the Wrecked dams, without fact or numbers.

BTW - Although the inevitable demise of Glen Canyon Dam is a powerful symbol of the Wrecked oppression of free flowing rivers and people, the true benefits and costs of delaying the inevitable spread of invasive mussels throughout a dammed Colorado River basin is the question AH's post highlighted. Taking out the dams, takes out the mussels.
Rational? What's rational about the gibberish quoted above. The pennies on the dollar concept is clear as day, the costs associated with mussel prevention and control programs pale in comparison to the costs associated with the removal of a Colorado River dam. So suggesting using the funds from the prevention and control programs to fund dam removal falls short, way short. Others posting to this thread HAVE presented facts, numbers, sources, comparisons; you present opinion, heavily biased opinion supported by generalizations. It's obvious you're passionate about dam removal, and if you want to forward your cause it would behoove you to do research and present data. From what I've read, no one posting to this thread has stated they want the Colorado dams to remain, they've simply attempted to show why their removal is highly problematic and ultimately unlikely in the foreseeable future. A few even attempted to illustrate the value that some dams have to society, boating and themselves. That is actually rational.
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Old 11-14-2014   #9
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Little Boys with Dam Toys

Based on the vitriol, my guess is that the inability to acknowledge and cope with my constructive points is lodged deep in little boy brains that yell "shut up" to troubling facts and quagga nightmares.

There has been no rational or reasoned response to my basic, and very constructive point - taking out the CRSP dams and letting the Colorado flow again may provide the only economically and ecologically effective solution to preventing quagga mussels establishment in the basin. Restrac2000s said it would be pennies on the dollar to implement a quagga crackdown and delay the inevitable, and I called bullshit. Instead of numbers, he posted tantrums.

And I get it, little boy brains love dams and need government masters to preserve the failing status quo that Daddy Dominy built. I have faith that each will collapse, soon.
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Old 11-14-2014   #10
 
cedar city, Utah
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