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Interdisciplinary Freshwater Exploration Series on Dams

Year of Funding: 
Diablo Dam in Ross Lake National Recreation Area of Washington, courtesy David Fulmer/Creative Commons

Dams in the Pacific Northwest provide valuable services such as hydropower generation, flood control, and water storage, which have been integral to the region’s social and economic development. However, dams may also negatively impact ecosystems and people. Most notably in the Pacific Northwest, dams impede migration of native, endangered fish species such as salmon and steelhead, which in turn disrupts the livelihoods of local Native American populations. Rapid human population growth and climate change, which places increased demand on freshwater resources, exacerbate tensions surrounding dams in the Northwest. Dam management is a complex, multi-faceted challenge that requires interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation across the humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, and engineering.

Our graduate research cluster provides graduate students with an interdisciplinary forum to broaden perspectives on dam management by exploring and addressing diverse stakeholder needs and concerns. Our activities include:

  • In fall 2018, we will take a day-long field trip to the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project. We will hear from a fish biologist and climate change advisor from Seattle City Light, which owns and operates the Project.
  • In winter 2019, we will gather to reflect on our fall field trip and discuss student insights and questions. We will identify collective knowledge gaps, articulate questions for faculty and practitioners in the spring panel discussion, and discuss which specific faculty or practitioners could address these questions.
  • In spring 2019, we will conduct a panel discussion with student-selected faculty and practitioners, centered on previously developed questions. This event will be a highly interactive discussion with audience participation.



Primary Contacts

Claire Beveridge (Civil & Environmental Engineering)

Asif Mahmood (Civil & Environmental Engineering)

Yifan Cheng (Civil & Environmental Engineering)

William Ryan Currier (Civil & Environmental Engineering)

Chelsea Grimmer (English)

Erika Rubenson (School of Aquatic & Fisheries Science)