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Stored Water Using Dams

Stored water using dams

A report by the European Environment Agency has highlighted a possible future shortage of stored water due to the building of dams coming to a virtual standstill.  Dams have been built in Europe since the 2nd Century but only in the last two hundred years have they been of any significant size.  The construction of reservoirs grew rapidly during the 19th Century to its heyday in the 1950’s.  But now the rate of building reservoirs has slowed to a trickle, mainly because of environmental concerns.

There are issues with the impact of both construction and water inundation but also more subtle environmental changes to the water table, algae, toxicity and erosion downstream (Dams will trap suspended matter and the lack of sand and particulates downstream can reduce protection of river banks and estuaries). One of the major concerns is the access to spawning sites for migratory fish.  Even the smaller dams (less than 10-15m in height) provide impassable barriers to fish.

Another disincentive to commissioning a new reservoir is the planning procedure and public consultation which could take many years.  Any new project could take up 20-30 years from drawing board to start of build.

And yet it is easy to forget why these reservoirs were built in the first place.  They stored water to be supplied as domestic water, crop irrigation, hydropower production and flood alleviation. All good things!  The, albeit justified, environmental concerns have altered the mindset against storing water, while at the same time we are sleep-walking into a global water crisis.

The popular solution is to sink wells and boreholes everywhere – they are less visible and do not affect migratory fish.  They do however, affect water tables and, on a larger scale deplete ancient aquifers.  Groundwater is being pumped so aggressively that in some areas the land is sinking.  Now thirteen of the world’s largest aquifers are under significant stress and it is estimated that with the damage we are doing now, it could take hundreds of years to repair these precious natural water stores.  It is clear that pumping water out of the ground is not a sustainable water solution – as water tables drop, new and deeper wells have to be dug until there will be no water left.

We shouldn’t let the negatives of large dammed reservoirs discourage us from promoting small scale reservoirs, ponds and lakes for storing water

Small scale water storage provides all the positives including saving on utility costs, drought and flood alleviation, but none of the negatives of large dammed structures such as migration barriers, water inundation and other environmental impacts.  And by using a hydro ram to pump and store surface water from springs, streams and rivers, a stored water system can also avoid using groundwater and negatively affecting the water table.

The Papa Pump is modern hydro ram which has been developed with modern materials and a patented new valve to give better efficiency, a longer life and reduce maintenance. It pumps water without using any electricity or fuel, just the power in flowing water and can deliver water to impressive heights. So, you can pump water for free from your undammed stream or river to your storage tank, pond or lake with no impact on the water table, migratory fish or the environment.

For more information on a Papa Pump and store system, please visit our website
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