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World's aging dams lose storage capacity at alarming rate

Trapped sediment robs dams of storage capacity. Storage loss by 2050 will equal the combined yearly water use of Canada, China, France, India and Indonesia, says a U.N. University report.

Around the world many large lakes are filling with sediment and robbing dams of their storage capacity
Around the world many large lakes are filling with sediment and robbing dams of their storage capacity (AN/Nathan Hurst/Unsplash)

As if climate change and population growth across many parts of the globe were not enough to push fresh water supplies to the limit, the United Nations says that many large lakes are filling so fast with sediment that they are losing much of their capacity to store water.

Some 50,000 large dams worldwide are being robbed of as much as 19% of their combined original storage capacity, and total losses could reach 28% by mid-century, according to a U.N. University report on Wednesday.

The capacity loss by 2050 roughly equals the combined annual water use of Canada, China, France, India and Indonesia, said the authors of the global assessment issued by the U.N.U.'s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health and published in the journal Sustainability.

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