Hydropower is generally considered as a “green” and clean energy. The reality is quite different and there are many aspects that are neglected when describing hydropower as a “green” energy, such as the negative impacts that dams and hydropower plants have on the environment and on the rivers’ ecosystem.
Indeed, the presence of dams affects the water quality and temperature, it changes the river flows and affects the water’s oxygen level with negative consequences on the whole river’s ecosystem. Moreover, dams create downstream and upstream barriers to fish, making migration almost impossible and thus affecting the fish capacity of completing their life cycle.
European anglers are very much concerned with the increasing development of hydropower in Europe. Hydropower is considered as a way to reach the EU climate and energy goals in an environmental-friendly way. On the contrary, besides the already mentioned negative effects on the environment, hydropower affects also recreational angling and tourism.
In 2014, the EAA produced a film titled ‘The End of the River’ to raise awareness among European citizens and decision-makers on the catastrophic consequences that hydropower plants already have on European’s rivers and ecosystems. The movie can be watched below.
As stated in its position, the EAA demands a better implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). In particular, existing plants should be upgraded to reduce their negative impact on the environment by adding or improving fish passages for both upstream and downstream fish migration. Moreover, the EAA supports the creation of No Go areas to halt the construction of new hydropower plants in vulnerable areas such as the Alpine region and the Natura 2000 sites. Finally, public subsidies to small hydropower plants should be cut as it as be proved that the damages they create on the environment are much more costly than the benefits they generate in terms of electricity production