Hydropower Damming Impacts

As global demand for low carbon sources of electricity rises, there’s been renewed interest in hydropower expansion. In some areas of the world where hydroelectricity has already been implemented, hydropower projects are still being considered. But the potential impact of hydropower damming can be far-reaching, as many such dams will displace vital river habitat. Furthermore, hydropower damming can have a negative impact on natural ecosystems as well as the environment. This article details the environmental impacts of hydropower damming.

Hydropower dams threaten fish habitats worldwide - Futurity

The primary environmental costs associated with hydropower dam building and operation relate to direct environmental costs and climate change. Water provided by damming rivers erodes the soil. This eroding and drying can result in reduced habitat for natural wildlife, and in some cases, the flooding of habitats for indigenous peoples could increase over time. In addition, hydropower damming tends to displace people who live in the area. Increased climate change means that increased precipitation will also mean higher environmental costs associated with raising the land to house these people.

Read: The disadvantages of hydropower

There are multiple environmental effects of hydropower damming, but perhaps the most troubling is the impact on the hydrological cycle and climate change. Dams can alter the flow of both rivers and the flow of the ocean. If the dam reaches or crosses an international border, there may be additional legal or practical concerns regarding the altered flow of the water, and this can affect the downstream effects of hydropower to the environment. Furthermore, hydropower alters the flow of the river in order to provide hydroelectric power, and the alteration can have an effect on the climate of the environment as a whole.


One of the key environmental impacts of hydropower damming occurs when the reservoir is used for agricultural purposes. Livestock can cause serious …