In his article "Making Hydro Sustainable" (Jan. 1, 1995), Thomas Russo forgets an important consideration in any large-scale engineering project: the social impact. The construction and commissioning of large-scale hydroelectric generating facilities have always required large capital investments and produced widespread impacts on the ecosystem. These impacts have generally been fairly obvious and carefully examined. What is usually ill-considered is the impact, both short- and long-term, on the people and communities "in the way."
Several recent examples demonstrate the gravity of ignoring the social impact. Thailand's Pak Mun Dam project forcibly displaced many people and spawned a grassroots protest movement effective enough to thwart the Thai government's plans for further hydroelectric development. Now Thailand is being forced to contract for power from their neighbours, effectively exporting the problem.