Cover image for Watershed : the undamming of America
Watershed : the undamming of America
Grossman, Elizabeth, 1957-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Counterpoint, [2002]

Physical Description:
xv, 238 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TD195.D35 G76 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



0-8133-6782-4 the Spirit of American Law: an Anthology

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Americans built dams by the thousands, inadvertently turning once glorious rivers into polluted "highways, ditches, and power plants." Until recently the efficacy of dams was rarely questioned, but as journalist and essayist Grossman reveals in this zestful and invaluable survey of the state of American rivers and their environs and wildlife, few dams accomplish what they were designed to, and most are causing grievous environmental harm. Communities in the know have been removing dams and restoring rivers, a movement that has reached such encouraging proportions that Grossman was inspired to visit newly liberated rivers across the country, including sites in Maine, Florida, Wisconsin, Oregon, and California. As she adeptly sketches each region's history and chronicles the tricky, time-consuming efforts involved in winning support for dam removal, Grossman presents a crash course in river ecology, fish biology, water pollution, and the politics of water. She also offers hope. Undammed rivers heal themselves, thus helping solve our water dilemmas, preserve endangered species, and bring joy to all who witness the wonder of rivers running free and clean and churning with life. Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Since before Edward Abbey protested Utah's Glenn Canyon Dam in his 1972 Monkey Wrench Gang, such attempts to make rivers work for us have been both controversial and problematic. In this whirlwind tour of dams across America, Grossman, a journalist based in Portland, Ore., persuasively illustrates why it's time for many of the 75,000 dams in the U.S. to come down. According to Grossman, dams were born of a driving need to manage the American landscape. More troubling, most were designed and built without a full understanding of how rivers function and without considering each dam's impact on its river system. As a result, rivers across the country are dying from our hydropower, irrigation and recreation needs. Dams affect a river's ecosystem from headwater to delta, throwing off the balance that fosters plant, insect and fish life along the way. The clearest example of damage is in dwindling fish populations: fish that depend on migration to spawn, such as steelhead and salmon, struggle to get up fish ladders, when they're incorporated in a dam at all, or need to be literally lifted over the dam. In California alone the steelhead population has dropped 90% since the 1950s. Grossman gives a national perspective to the current movement toward river reclamation by visiting about a dozen sites across the country; she reports on the conflicting perspectives that drive or resist reclamation, and she lays out the complex political and economic pressures. By considering each river as a continuous linked entity, Grossman offers a compelling update on a movement that could reshape the face of America. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The over 75,000 dams on the Army Corps of Engineers National Dam Inventory means there are virtually no major free-flowing rivers in the United States. But since 1998 more dams have been removed than have been built. Endangered species, tribal rights, private or public ownership, polluted silt, politics, removal costs this is just a short list of what must be addressed during the decommissioning of a dam. Grossman (coeditor, Shadow Cat: Encountering the American Mountain Lion) visited nine states where dams were either removed, such as Edwards Dam in Maine and three dams on the Neuse River in North Carolina, or where dams are still operating but have a contingency working on removal. There is much discussion of how people are affected by the dams and about community involvement, making the book of interest to the general reader, particularly for those located near a dam. She explains the original purpose of each dam, the benefits it originally provided, the changes it wrought, and the highly complex and interwoven multitude of issues involved in removal. Thoroughly researched, described, and presented, this enlightening and encouraging work is recommended for public and academic libraries. Nancy Moeckel, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.