Global Impact of Dams

Global Impact of Dams




Global Impact of Dams


In history, human beings have been hell-bent on transforming the ecosphere to fit and meet their daily needs. This has been marked by the civil changes observed whereby the human civilization has transformed from primitive and migrant society characterized by activities such as hunting and gathering to one that is more residential and modernized (Degeorges & Reilly, 2006). Through this transformation, one elemental aspect that has been observed is the role played by human and nature interaction in the downfall and development of these societies. One of the main activities that elaborate this interaction is construction of dams (Nigel, 1997). Humans have undertaken this endeavor as a means to utilize water resources. Their construction commenced in ancient times prior to the discovery of concepts of hydromechanics and hydrology. The paper seeks to explain the impact of construction and utilization of dams by humanity from a global perspective.

Impact on Hydraulic Systems

Construction of a dam affects the environment surrounding its location. The major notable change is in the hydraulic systems. The drainage system at the collection basin of a dormant reservoir is drastically affected. In that, the discharge fluctuates hence causing a partial drying up effect on the downstream path to the stream when accumulation of water is kick started. The resulting effect of this change includes disappearance of structural jumps and death of flora and fauna within the region (Nigel, 1997). Deoxygenation of the deep waters is also observed as the decomposition of the dead flora and fauna accelerates. The ultimate result is that the upstream is polluted with the decaying matter characterized by a pungent smell emanating from the water due to the release of sulphurous hydrogen (Kingsford, 2000). The probability of the new ecosystem recovering to its former state is difficult. This is applicable to the new aqua and sea environment surrounding the dam. An exemplary instance of such negative impact is the Assuan Dam, which is part of the Nile River Ecosystem.

Impact on Human Life

In terms of development, construction of dams has played a significant role. Despite of the nonchalant reception it has received from people, it has greatly improved the employment rates as well as productivity of various global states. During the process of constructing dams, various employment opportunities have been availed as construction workers, engineers, experts, and technical workers are required (Degeorges & Reilly, 2006). At these particular sites, infrastructure is also developed to ease the transportation of material used in dam construction hence transforming the surrounding environment into a settlement where people can reside and earn a livelihood. In terms of development of amenities, social buildings are constructed to meet the needs of the workers living within the area as well as people from outside who visit the site (Degeorges & Reilly, 2006). Consequentially, it is valid to mention that construction of dams has social benefits from a national and global perspective as it contributes to the development of the economy through creation of employment and infrastructure.


It is important to comprehend the reality that dams are more beneficial to the human civilization. Despite the negative effects such as those on the hydraulic system and sustenance of flora and fauna, economically, dams are fiscally advantageous projects. Industrialization has consistently improved with more dams being constructed globally. Improvement has also been observed in electricity generation, food production and irrigation channels. The futuristic benefits of dams outweigh the negative effects it has on the upstream areas. Hence, it is imperative to note that some human activities are important to the enhancement of civilization.



Degeorges, A., & Reilly, B. (2006). Dams and large-scale irrigation on the Senegal River: impacts on man and the environment. International Journal Of Environmental Studies, 63(5), 633-644.

Kingsford, R. (2000). Ecological impacts of dams, water diversions and river management on floodplain wetlands in Australia. Austral Ecology, 25(2), 109-127.

Nigel, W. (1997). Biodiversity: Dams Drain the Life Out of Riverbanks. Science, 276(5313), 683-683.

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