Patagonia’s Our Common Waters campaign isn’t only about demolishing dams. The impact of a dam on rivers and ecosystems lingers well past their expiration date, so removing them is still necessary in many cases. But that’s the work of remedying our past mistakes. The future requires that we find new ways to reduce our water and energy footprints so fewer dams are built in the first place.
That’s what this essay, "Putting Water Back," is about – finding creative new ways to alter consumption patterns, and in areas where we haven’t yet found a way to do that, helping others who have.
Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, sometimes quotes environmentalist David Brower, who was once asked why conservationists are always against things. Brower’s reply: “If you are against something, you are always for something. If you are against a dam, you are for a river.”
"Putting Water Back" is also about keeping an eye on what we are for. Doing so opens us up to the wide range of solutions needed to mend the environment and to keep up the momentum on the road ahead.
[Above: An adult steelhead – one of only two seen in 2011 during an afternoon spent looking for steelies on the Ventura River. Photo: Matt Stoecker]