National Geographic : 1975 Jan
Are dams good or bad? The answer is both. Because water control, like many problems to day, has both environmental and economic impact. Dam building can disrupt lots of land. Reservoir back-up can sub merge valuable acreage, forcing people and wildlife to move. We must recognize those drawbacks. But damaging floods are a recur ring threat in many areas. Dams, levees and contingency plans can minimize, or prevent, the effects of such natural disasters. The Mount Morris Dam in west ern New York's Genesee River Valley is an example. It's the key stone of a water control system affecting 2,476 square miles. Its impoundment area covers just over 5 square miles. But it protects farmlands, cities and towns in the Genesee River Valley for about 40 miles below the dam. During the flooding caused by tropical storm Agnes in 1972, the Mount Morris Dam averted $210 million in damage to those down stream farms and towns, including the City of Rochester. The dam's cost was $25 million. Without it, that single flood would have cost nine times as much, according to Corps of Engineers figures. The benefits of a successful dam project do not eliminate the draw backs. They outweigh them. No one suggests we dam every river and stream. But responsibly planned projects, like the one at Mount Morris, prove we can bal ance good and bad-for our environment-and our economy. Caterpillar is concerned because we make machines used in water control projects. And because sound water management is im portant to the nation's well-being. There are no simple solutions. Only intelligent choices. W CATERPILLAR Caterpillar,Catand 0 are Trademarksof CaterpillarTractor Co.