flow regime regulation
There is a highly polarized environment in which decisions balancing protection of fish populations and energy generation are made. Hydroelectric power accounts for 12% of U.S. electric supply and virtually all the nation's renewable enrage capacity. Yet, hydro is under increasing attack on environmental grounds, mostly for inputs on fish populations. The 1992 listing of sockeye salmon as endangered has intensified a long-running battle over restoring fish runs and sent mitigation costs skyrocketing. Further complicating the regulatory picture, a Supreme Court decision this spring appears to allow states to set minimum flows at hydroelectric facilities under the authority of the Clean Water Act. The real challenge for applied ecologists will continue to be: how best to put the right information on the table, in the right form, and at the right time to best incorporate ecological consequences in the decision making process.
American Rivers produced abstract
Seventy-seven percent of the total water discharge of the 139 largest river systems in North America north of Mexico, in Europe, and in the republics of the former Soviet Union is strongly or moderately affected by fragmentation of the river channels by dams and by water regulation resulting from reservoir operation, interbasin diversion, and irrigation. The remaining free-flowing large river systems are relatively small and nearly all situated in the far north, as are the 59 medium-sized river systems of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. These condition indicate that many types of river ecosystems have been lost and that the populations of many riverine species have become highly fragmented. To improve the conservation of biodiveristy and the sustainable use of biological resources, immediate action is called for to create an international preservation network of free-flowing river systems and to rehabilitate exploited rivers in areas that lack unaffected watercourses.
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