Above the dams, large areas are often submerged (known as riparian zones). Large dams routinely submerge millions of acres, depending on the depth of the water. This displaces not only animals, but human communities can be uprooted as well.
Social conflicts are inherent to dam building. The products of the dam, namely electrical power, are generally enjoyed long distances from where the dams are located. Local populations become displaced, and they get very little in return for their troubles. The U.S. built a lot of dams on Indian territories during the 1950s and 1960s, and the hostility that policy engendered is still simmering.
Similar situations have occurred more recently in China and Canada. The Hydro-Quebec dam in Canada (which supplies both Canadian customers and American) flooded 3,800 square miles of land inhabited mainly by an indigenous Indian tribe. In China, the Three Gorges project on the Yangtze River features a dam spanning over 1.4 miles. The project has displaced over 3 million people, and so far the environmental damage has been much greater than anticipated. There are landslides on adjoining grades that are destroying entire villages. The impoundment reservoir itself is over 375 miles long, which means that people living over the course of this entire span have had their lives disrupted permanently.
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