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Document Title: Dam Removal Success Stories - Lessons Learned from Previous Dam Removal Experiences
Document: Electronic format not available. Request hard copy from CDRI.
Author(s): Shawn Cantrell
Series: 21st Annual USSD Lecture Series; The Future of Dams and Their Reservoirs, Denver, Colorado, July 30 - August 3, 2001
Date: 2001
Abstract: Despite the growing national policy debate regarding whether or not to remove select dams, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the hundreds of dams that have already been removed nationwide. This paper addresses the likely effects of potential dam removals by examining the details of previous dam removals over the past 90 years. The United States has an extensive history of dam removals, with approximately 500 dams that have already been removed in all regions of the country. Removal is a timetested, well-established response for dealing with aging dams. All types of dams have been removed, from water supply to hydroelectric, flood control to recreation. Earthfill dams, concrete arch dams, gravity dams, masonry dams, and timber crib dams have all been taken out. Removed dams have been publicly owned, privately owned, and abandoned dams. While the majority of removed dams have been small, there are more than 40 dams that were 40 feet or taller that have been taken out, including four dams that were 120 feet or taller. The majority of dam removals identified occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, although many dams were also removed as early as the 1920s and 1930s. This paper provides specific details on several case studies that illustrate the three primary reasons for removing a dam: 1) environmental issues, such as restoring a river's damaged ecosystem and rebuilding depleted fish and wildlife populations; 2) public safety concerns, such as remedying structural deficiencies of an aging and deteriorating dam; and 3) economic issues, such as when on-going operation and maintenance investments, as well as required structural upgrades and operational modifications, mean that continued dam operation is no longer cost-effective.
Permalink: http://digital.library.ucr.edu/cdri/?record=69

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