We stopped at Niagara Falls on our trip to Canada this summer. Growing up in Ontario, I’ve seen the falls a number of times, but they still have a “wow” factor. I can’t look at them without wondering what it would have been like for First Nations and early explorers to come upon the falls without expecting to see them. Even if one of their buddies told them, “oh yeah, there is a big waterfall over there,” there is no verbal way to accurately describe the sheer awesomeness of an enormous amount of water dropping 50 meters.
Of course, Niagara Falls aren’t just nice to look at. They produce power. In fact, First Nations and early explorers saw a much grander set of falls. Now, up to 75 percent of the water is diverted for power. Like all current renewable sources of energy, hydro power is not a perfect energy solution, but it is relatively clean and amazingly simple. Canadian Geographic had an interesting article recently on the new tunnels used for power generation under Niagara Falls.
I understand the need for power. I like lights. Even today, living far away in coal-powered Virginia, I sometimes refer to our utility bill as our “hydro bill.” But I can’t help thinking wouldn’t it be great, if even for a few minutes, they could let all the water flow over the falls again? Totally unrealistic, I know, but fun to think about.