Dams are an essential part of global infrastructure to manage water flow down streams and rivers

while generating electricity, controlling the risk of flooding and creating a steady water supply for
domestic and industrial uses. Unfortunately, these dams tend to have an overall negative
environmental impact on the environment affecting downstream flow leading to erosion and loss of
sediments, impacting on surrounding wildlife and affecting local communities. The impact of these
effects on the surrounding environment can be solved, or reduced by carefully planning the location
of the dam to be built.
The location of a dam often alters the flow of water down a river or stream which results in the
erosion and removal of sediments from the river. These sediments are an important component of a
river as they enrich soil with nutrients creating areas rich in biodiversity. A study was conducted in
southern Iran on the retention of fine sediments by the Droodazn watershed porous check dams, a
common type of dam for soil and water conservation. Dams downstream are more efficient at
trapping fine sediment then those located in midstream or upstream areas. (). Therefore, by building
building a dam as far upstream as possible, the smallest possible impact to the river and
biogeochemical processes will occur. As a result, a high level of biodiversity will remain as sediments
and soil remain in place rather than being eroded away and trapped. This solution to managing the
impact of environments is very effective as it prevents the issue from occurring in the first place,
leaving minimal damage to fix in the future, however it cannot be applied to the thousands of dams
already built.
Environmental impacts caused by dams can be magnified significantly based on the environment the
dam is to be built in, hence why it is important to consider the location of a dam to minimize the
environmental impacts. Dams which create a large reservoir of water contribute significantly to
greenhouse gas emissions releasing approximately 4% of the estimated yearly global gas emissions.()
Congo river dams contain a large reservoir of water which acts as a large carbon sink while releasing
a significant amount of gasses which not only affects the local environment, it also impacts the
broader biosphere. Similarly, the dam also impacts on the sediment, nutrient and water flow of the
river causing a rush of organic matter to pour into the Gulf of Guinea. The increase of nutrients and
organic matter mixed with the decrease in oxygen has significantly impacted on the environmental
conditions surrounding the Gulf of Guinea and Congo river.() If these problems and effects were
known prior, engineers could have considered the possibility of choosing a more suitable location for
the dam which still full filled the needs of the area.

Dams impede the flow of water, however they also impede the flow of aquatic life moving upstream
or downstream, especially during the migration season. The location of a dam should be planned in a
way that has a minimal impact on the aquatic life. Dams result in a reduced number of species of
aquatic life and lowered migratory numbers resulting in a reduced rate of catching fish. () Not only
does this affect the overall diversity of aquatic life, it puts extra strain on the population of fish and
risks extinction to some of the more exotic fish species. To prevent this, engineers must find a
location suitable for building the dam while minimizing the amount of migration paths blocked.
However this is not always feasible and in that case, fish pathways should be constructed to reduce
the impact.
Considering the location
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Sediments/biodiversity
Trapping fish
Riverbed deepening
Impacts broader biosphere, significant contributors to greenhouse gas. Congo river Recent studies
on the Congo River have demonstrated that the sediment and nutrient flow from the
Congo drives biological processes far into the Atlantic Ocean, including serving as a
carbon sink for atmospheric greenhouse gases.
http://www.internationalrivers.org/environmental-impacts-of-dams
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