August 20, 2014

Film, discussion will examine river science

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. – A Southern Illinois University Carbondale graduate student organization wants the community to consider life without dams. 

IGERT, the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship, teamed with Sierra Club: Shawnee Group, to bring the film “DamNation” to campus. The screening is from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Sept. 4, in the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library. Representatives from IGERT and the Sierra Club: Shawnee Group will introduce the film, and IGERT members and faculty will be available to discuss and answer questions about river science and politics. The event is free and the public is invited to attend. 

The award-winning documentary focuses on the role river dams play in the ecosystem, and advocates for dam removal, particularly in cases where the structure is in need of costly and extensive repair. The filmmakers argue that removing dams from once-flowing rivers restores salmon especially, but other wild fish as well. The filmmakers also examine the economic advantages to healthy rivers, and address perceived benefits of dams, including hydropower, flood control and municipal water supply. 

The IGERT program, one of 20 to receive funding from the National Science Foundation out of a pool of more than 400 applicants, launched in 2010. It’s a six-year program designed to train leading watershed scientists while they earn doctoral degrees at SIU. The interdisciplinary program draws from areas including geology, engineering, educational psychology, forestry, agricultural economics, microbiology, fisheries, and other areas. The group is involved with an intensive study of water flow in the Cache River basin.