How to balance food and energy with hydropower dams

Almost 100 hydropower dams are planned on the 2700 mile Mekong River, which is a huge economic driving force and a food source for millions living in Burma, China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. While these dams will supply much-needed electricity, they will change the flow patterns on the river, which could impact businesses and food security from fisheries. New research now shows how to solve this tradeoff: regulate water releases from the dams so that there are long periods of low water flow interspersed with pulses of flooding. The new research appeared on the front cover of Science, and was coauthored by SAFS professor Gordon Holtgrieve, who was part of an international team led by Professor John Sabo at Arizona State University. An accompanying piece by LeRoy Poff and SAFS professor Julian Olden, also in Science, explains why this research is a groundbreaking innovation for designing dams for sustainability. For more, see the University of Washington press release.

Front cover of the most recent issue of Science magazine.

 

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