Concerning Dean Sigler’s “Alternative Energies” article [August 2012], he got one item wrong. Hydroelectric generators do not routinely “slice migrating salmon in their turbines.” Most migrating fish are shunted around the turbines through effective and well-proven fish ladders or barges. The overwhelming majority of fish who do get through turbines suffer no ill effects at all.
Hydroelectric is the least expensive, cleanest and most reliable source of renewable energy that this world offers. It beats the competition in every category, every time.
The rivers are more useful, navigable and less dangerous, the fishing, camping and hunting improve, and the reservoir property values improve. The land that is covered by water is usually so rugged that it is not good for much else.
It is a win-win solution that profit-motivated utilities hate. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live near a reservoir love them. When we fly over a reservoir, we can see how relatively small it is, particularly when we consider its clean energy benefits.
Dean Sigler responds: Responding to Mr. Borgelt’s concerns, I offer some historical perspective.
Even though the notion of salmon being cut up by turbines may have been rhetorical overkill, this is an ongoing problem, even with fish ladders and diversions for migrating salmon.
Three web sites are instructive, and even though they may have a bias, they also have hard facts that are difficult to ignore. Before dams were constructed on the Columbia River, for example, fish runs were estimated at around 16 million salmon per year. The best post-dam years see about two million fish making it upstream. This may not all be the fault of the dams, with overfishing of seas and rivers accounting for some of it.
The fish are no longer “native” salmon, because hatcheries had to be built to make up for the sudden loss of natural fish.
Dams do indeed provide beautiful lakefronts and recreational opportunities, and may be profitable for property owners, but they are disruptive of natural water flow.
Please read the materials provided in these web sites for an alternative view: www.nwcouncil.org/history/FishPassage.asp (which is just one small part of a comprehensive study) and http://caltrout.org and www.flyfishingoutfitters.com/California-Trout-Article-How-Do-Dams-Affect-Our-Fish.
These show the basic conflict that continues to pervade our demand for energy: How can we create the energy we need with the least damage to the natural world that we share with all creatures?
An Alternative POV
For Dean Sigler: Since meeting you at the Green Flight Challenge last year in Santa Rosa, I have been reading your articles in KITPLANES®.
I just finished the one on Green Energy. I appreciate how thorough you are in your research. I am an engineer, and you did not seem the engineer type to me when I met you. But your writing shows either real understanding or careful research. Thanks for your thoughtful articles.
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