ECOconscious  06.22

Restoring Rivers

Climate change is already wreaking havoc on communities and their Rivers and water supplies. Protecting and restoring our Rivers is key to climate resilience

Methane-Producing Dams: More than 90,000 dams turn free-flowing rivers across the U.S. into stagnant impoundments that release methane, a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Failing infrastructure: Major flooding and hurricanes have caused dozens of dams to fail in the Carolinas, and Michigan’s Edenville Dam failed catastrophically in 2020. Climate change is bringing more frequent and severe flooding at a time when U.S. dams are aging and outdated.

Rivers running dry: The Colorado River – which supports a $1.4 trillion economy and drinking water for 40 million people – is in crisis due to climate change and decades of overallocation. The river is so over-burdened it no longer reaches the sea.

Disastrous flooding: Record flooding along the Mississippi River in 2019 caused $20 billion in damage to people’s homes, farms and businesses in the floodplain. As flood risk grows with climate change, so does the risk to anyone living in harm’s way.


Safeguard clean water through green, natural infrastructure: To manage its increasingly intense rainstorms and related polluted stormwater and sewage spills, the City of Atlanta committed to investing in natural or “green’ infrastructure to slow, store and filter the water, protect intown communities from flooding and improve quality of life.

Reconnect rivers through floodplain restoration: In California’s Central Valley, restoring the floodplain gives the San Joaquin River room to move, increasing capacity to hold floodwaters while creating wildlife habitat and recharging groundwater supplies.

Protect healthy, free-flowing rivers: On South Carolina’s Waccamaw River, protecting land from development and establishing a blue trail has improved flood protection and increased access to nearby nature for community recreation.

Remove harmful and unnecessary dams: More than 1,900 dams have been removed nationwide. Demolition of four dams on Oregon and California’s Klamath River is set to begin in 2023 to restore endangered salmon runs. The Klamath is a prime example of how dismantling dams, reducing reservoir methane emissions, addressing historic injustices against Tribal Nations and building climate-resilient rivers go hand-in-hand.