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About Dams

By the end of the 20th century, the dam industry had choked more than half of the earth's major rivers with more than 50,000 large dams. The consequences of this massive engineering program have been devastating. The world's large dams have wiped out species; flooded huge areas of wetlands, forests and farmlands, and displaced tens of millions of people. The "one-size-fits-all" approach to meeting the world's water and energy needs is also outdated: better solutions exist. While not every dam causes huge problems, cumulatively the world's large dams have replumbed rivers in a massive experiment that has left the planet's freshwaters in far worse shape than any other major ecosystem type, including tropical rainforests. In response, communities are starting to take down dams that have outlived their usefulness, as part of a broader river restoration movement.

Dam Impacts at a Glance (Dam Impacts at a Glanc)

Dam Basics

Frequently Asked Questions About Dams

Damned Rivers, Damned Lives: A briefing paper on large dams (PDF)

For a visual introduction to dams, rivers and people watch our We All Live Downstream slideshow.