Segments in this Video

Pros and Cons of Dams (04:55)


Beginning in the 1930s, the United States government, primarily through the Bureau of Reclamation and the US Army Corps of Engineers, were building dams wherever they could get concrete and steel into the rivers. However, dams are bad for the environment.

Dams are Fish Killers (04:23)

Dams are bad for fish, and removing them can help restore fish populations. In some instances, the reason for the dam is no longer valid.

Pros and Cons of Dam Removal (02:03)

Dam removal can help fish populations, but also can benefit towns by providing more recreational opportunities.

Dams Impact Fishing and Native American Life (04:24)

Native Americans have been fishing at Celilo Falls since 1885, but the falls will soon be underwater due to a dam.

Native Americans Look at Dam Removal (04:07)

"The red man bows before white man's march of progress." Tribes have gone through their own winter and are emerging with innovative fisheries programs. They believe that if you break the circle and take one component out, it breaks down the whole circle and our existence will no longer be here. They want the salmon to have the freedom to be salmon again and to have the river.

Dam Building Causes Decline in Fish Population (05:16)

The construction of four dams on the lower Snake River in the 1970s had a devastating impact on the salmon population in the region, which has had a number of negative consequences for the local economy and communities.

Economic Need for Dams Balanced Against Environment (05:15)

The dams provide many benefits to the region, including electricity, water, and a stable economy. If they were removed, the region would be a desert and the economy would collapse.

Wild Rivers and Dams (04:02)

The executive director of a group called Restoring Eden advocates for the protection of native habitats, wild species, and indigenous cultures. He believes that when we dam a river, we change the whole ecosystem, and that we should not do this unless it is absolutely necessary. He also believes that nature provides us with spiritual sustenance.

Spiritual Significance of Salmon (01:29)

The author reflects on the spiritual significance of salmon in Native American culture, and how the restoration of salmon populations is an act of recreation that restores balance to the natural environment.

Glen Canyon: Peace and Quiet (10:15)

The narrator reflects on the lessons he learned from the river, including the importance of taking things easy and finding out who you are. The Glen Canyon Dam is a large dam that has had a profound effect on the environment. It is important to consider the environmental effects of large dams when making decisions about whether to build them.

Dams as Valuable Resources (02:27)

Lake Powell is a valuable resource that provides many benefits to the public, including recreation, tourism, and environmental protection. Draining the lake would be a mistake that would result in significant losses.

Remove Unneeded Dams (01:51)

Dams are no longer serving their purpose and need to be removed in order to restore the ecosystem. Community support is necessary to achieve environmental improvement.

Credits (02:39)


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Troubled Waters

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



The United States has between 75,000 and 2.5 million dams, many of which have outlived their usefulness. This documentary blends photos, archival and new footage to explore the effects of these dams on the environment today. It demonstrates that dams divorce a river from its ecosystem, impacting biodiversity and riparian habitat. Exploring environmental, cultural, economic, and spiritual arguments for and against decommissioning dams, the viewer is left to consider their effect.

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: BVL216295

ISBN: 978-1-63722-207-2

Copyright date: ©2006

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.