Current Status: ARA is actively engaged in hydropower relicensing efforts on the R.L. Harris Dam on the Tallapoosa River and in the ongoing Coosa River dam relicensing projects.


Dams disconnect and fragment our rivers, often with severe consequences for aquatic species and river recreationists. As a stark example of the impacts dams can have on our rivers, one of the largest modern extinction events in North American history occurred in Alabama over the course of the 20th century when nearly 40 species of freshwater snails and mussels were driven extinct or extirpated after seven hydroelectric dams converted much of the Coosa River from a flowing riverine ecosystem to a series of still, deep reservoirs.

Dams and the reservoirs they form are used by humans for water supply, hydroelectric generation, navigation, and other purposes, but these societal benefits come at a cost to our natural river ecosystems, and ARA engages in the licensing processes for hydropower dams to help restore and reconnect rivers harmed by dams. Through our hydropower licensing, we work with dam owners, federal and state agencies, river users, landowners, and other stakeholders to improve river connectivity, water quality, aquatic habitat, recreation opportunities, and human safety in communities and waters affected by hydroelectric dams.

If the societal and ecological costs of outdated, uneconomic, or unsafe dams outweigh their benefits, we work to remove them and reconnect our rivers.


Hydropower Reform Coalition

ARA proudly participates in the national Hydropower Reform Coalition, whose mission is to protect, enhance, and restore America’s rivers, watersheds, and communities affected by hydropower operations. Check out the HRC’s excellent resource library for guides and tools to better understand the licensing process and how to help people and rivers impacted by dams.

How Does Decarbonization Affect Water for Energy Systems?

Check out the presentation from the Alabama Water Rally 2024 Keynote Presenter, Dr. Emily Grubert, by clicking here.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Reservoirs

Hydropower dams and reservoirs are not as clean, green, or carbon-free as we have been led to believe. Learn more about how dams and reservoirs create and emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and see emissions modeling of particular hydropower facilities in Alabama

Heal The River

Watch our award-winning Southern Exposure short documentary about how downstream landowners, river recreationists, scientists, and advocates are engaging in the relicensing of R.L. Harris Dam to make changes to how the dam is operated to heal the Tallapoosa River.