hydropower keeps trash out of oceans
Each year, dam owners and hydroelectric power producers capture and remove tons of man-made debris, trash, and garbage from our lakes and rivers. This reduces the load on what is entering our oceans where there is currently a large focus on cleaning the oceans of the floating trash and plastic. The most notable of these efforts is that of the OceanCleanup® which is targeting the 5 large swirling trash fields in the ocean. Inland, however, is challenging and this is where dam owners have a tremendous opportunity to tout their contribution in preventing plastics and other trash from reaching the ocean where it will break down into microplastics to disrupt the global food chain in incomprehensible ways.
Dams are, for lack of a better term, “walls”. These walls stop trash and debris. When you drive past a dam you may see this trash and debris piling up behind the intakes and gates. The dam owner did not create this problem, nor did the dam owner put the trash in the water. But the owner’s dam is preventing that trash from reaching the ocean. Through the use of trash racks, rakers and traveling screens, dam owners pull hundreds of tons of debris from our lakes and rivers every year. That is debris that no longer will make its way to the oceans. Yes, the industry is doing a good job at removing debris but opportunity exists yet still to increase that effort in a way that is a good steward of the environment.