In the early 1980s, a group of activists from a small New England town fought the restoration of the nation’s oldest hydroelectric dam, the Sewalls Falls Dam on the Merrimack River. That battle ended when an April 1984 freshet washed away one-third of the century-old structure. But the fight kicked off a new social and environmental force — the "undamming" movement.
This swiftly growing movement is crisply
documented by Elizabeth Grossman in her book Watershed: The
Undamming of America. Grossman, a former New York book editor, now
rooted in Oregon, tells the story of the most important dam-removal
battles in the past 10 years. Snapshots of ongoing fights over Glen
Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, Savage Rapids Dam in Oregon and
the Lower Snake dams are interspersed with success stories from
California, Montana and across the country.
book, Dam Removal: Science and Decision Making, commissioned by the
H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment
in Washington, D.C., takes a methodical look at the potential
environmental, social and economic aspects of dam removal. The
book, which is the product of a 10-member panel that includes
engineers, biologists and policy makers, examines results of small-
and medium-sized dam removals throughout the United
Taken together or separately, both Watershed and
Dam Removal provide rewarding additions to the growing library of
Watershed: The Undamming of
America, Elizabeth Grossman, Counterpoint, 2002.
Hardcover: $27. 248 pages.
Dam Removal: Science
and Decision Making, Heinz Center Panel on Economic,
Environmental and Social Outcomes of Dam Removal, 2002. Available
free from the Heinz Center while supplies last (e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org) or on their Web site in PDF format at