Dams have been used to provide a store of water for agriculture, industrial uses, household uses for thousands of years. Hydroelectric dams, additionally, act as an alternative to non-renewable energy resources that constitutes the majority of the world’s energy . In the 20th century, over $2 trillion was spent on making dams around the world . However, dams have drastic damaging effects on the environment and on the populations that live near the dams and so have become the subject of great scrutiny, with organizations concerned with environmental health such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and International Rivers advocating the removal of old dams and the use of alternatives . Initiatives have been taken around the US to remove old, outdated dams . In this article, Mission 2017 looks into the uses of dams and ways of maximizing their efficiency and minimizing their environmental damage. The first part of the article looks into the details of dams and their problems and the second part deals with possible solutions to the problems Learn More
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Out of the 38,000 large scale dams registered by the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), an international organization that sets the standards for dams, 50 percent are used for irrigation, 18 percent for hydropower, 12 percent for water supply and 10 percent for flood control and the rest for other functions 
The vast quantities of water in reservoirs allow them to act as effective and steady sources of water for irrigation with minimal seasonal fluctuations. 30 to 40 percent of the 271 million hectares that are irrigated worldwide rely on irrigation dams . A study done by the World Commission on Dams (WCD) , a commission organized by the World Bank and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) to assess the effectiveness of large dams, showed that dams built for irrigation typically are unable to provide water for the planned area of land initially, but the performance improves over time . According to the WCD, half of the 52 large water storage projects for irrigation it examined failed to meet the expected goals the dams had been initially planned for. However, the general trend shows irrigated area increasing from 70 percent in five years to 100 percent of the planned area in ten years 
These problems often included poor and insufficient water distribution networks, inefficiencies resulting from a centralized administrative system with unclear distribution of responsibilities, poor coordination within the system and lack of initiative to involve the local stakeholders (the farmers, etc.) . Involving those who run the dam and those in the community could greatly benefit the performance of the dam
Dams can harvest gravitational potential energy to provide electrical power at low rates. Nineteen percent of world’s electricity supply comes from hydroelectric dams . Hydropower dams are able to reach their targets within five years, and around fifty percent of the hydropower dams worldwide actual exceed their targets 
As with irrigation dams, mistakes or changes at early points of project development are strongly correlated with delays in reaching anticipated power generation goals at the initial years of operation . The initial stages of project development are especially important, and improvements and organization at these phases could improve the ability of dams of attaining their set goals within their intended timeframe
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