For the InstructorThese student materials complement the Water Science and Society Instructor Materials. If you would like your students to have access to the student materials, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing InTeGrate teaching materials.
Ponding the Waters: Impacts of Dams
As we've covered in the first part of this module, the need for dams is largely driven by the uneven distribution of precipitation, resulting river discharge, and thus water supply – in both time and space. Dams control river flows and provide capacitance in the river channel to satisfy demands for continuous water supply (i.e. for irrigation and domestic use, for flood control, and power generation). However, such large-scale alteration of the natural river has wide-ranging impacts both upstream and downstream, where the ecology, geology, hydrology, and human populations have evolved in tandem with undisturbed patterns of variable river discharge. Here we'll briefly cover some of these impacts, and highlight using examples from well-known case studies including the Three Gorges and Aswan High Dams.