Image: Removing the Smelt Hill dam on the Presumpscot River in Maine, opened five miles of river and restored habitat for many economically important fish species. Image Source: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/restoration/projects_programs/crp/partners_funding/backgroundondamremoval.htm
Removing a dam will restore the natural flow of the stream or river.
Improved fish habitats
Improved riparian zones
Drained reservoir will
produce new riparian and
13 Dam removal sites in Wisconsin
Rapid revegetation demonstrates the potential of these sites for riparian restoration.
Temporal vegetation dynamics following dam removal were site-specific (Orr et al , 2006).
Removing a dam will impact reservoir habitat and wetland habitat.
Possible net loss of wetland habitat
Loss of reservoir fish habitat
It may be possible to “create” natural flow
Glen Canyon Dam
In 1996 a large flood was released
Studies following the release indicate that some restoration of beaches and riverine habitat occurred (Collier et al , 1996).
Cost-benefit Analysis of Dam Failure, Dam Repair, and Dam Removal
Caused by “Do Nothing Approach”
Repair the dam
Can be costly
Still have benefits of the dam
Remove the dam
Loss of economic benefits of the dam
No more yearly repair costs
Reasons for a dam failure
Internal erosion caused by seepage
Structural failure of the materials used in dam construction and inadequate maintenance (“Do Nothing” approach)
Overtopping of a dam, causing dam failure
Economical Implications of a failing dam
Loss of property
Habitat restoration costs
More than 400 dams failed in the U.S. between 1985 and 1994 (Stanley et al., 2003)
Damage caused by Cannon Creek Dam failure in B.C., May 1995
Survey of 10,000 flood control dams in U.S.
Over 2,200 needed maintenance
Estimated cost: $543 million (Stanley et al, 2003).
Construction company and materials for repair
Fish passage structures
$200,000-$400,000 depending on type and size
(Dam Repair or Removal: a Decision-Making Process, 2000)
Former Rockdale dam in Wisconsin with cracks in concrete wing walls and erosion of spillway Salmon swimming up fish ladder in Oroville Dam, CA (Google Video, 2007)
Lake Perez Dam
Built in 1960 in Stone Valley Recreational Area
Lake drawdown in 2002 for dam rehabilitation
$2.8 million project
(Stone Valley, 2002)
Drained again in 2008 for dam maintenance
No stocking, fishing, boating, etc.
Loss of summer recreational revenue
Three Repair Scenarios
Rehabilitating most structures, abandoning the turbine raceway
Rehabilitating some structures, abandoning the turbine raceway and the headrace structure
Rehabilitating the principal spillway, abandoning the headrace structure, and constructing new raceway overflow spillways and fish-passage structure
Construction company for demolition
Possibility of toxic sediments
Restoration of newly exposed area
Stream bank restoration
Lowell Dam removal on Little River, North Carolina (Google Video, Restoration Systems, 2005) Time-lapse removal of Marmot Dam, Sandy River, Oregon (Google Video, USGS, 2007)
Estimated removal cost: $216,000
Actual final cost: $238,769 ($200,000 paid by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources grant)
Costs of removal compared to repair
Dam Removal Case Study: Waterworks Dam, Baraboo River, Wisconsin (Dam Repair or Removal: a Decision-Making Process, 2000) Waterworks Dam on Baraboo River, WI (1996) Former impoundment of Waterworks Dam (2000)
Lower Granite, Little Goose, Lower Monumental, Ice Harbor dams on Lower Snake River in Washington state
Built by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1961 and 1975
Facilitate barge travel and generate a small portion of Northwest’s electricity
Lower Granite Dam on Lower Snake River, Washington http://www.bluefish.org/fourdams.htm
Costs of keeping the dams includes:
2004 Federal Columbia Snake River Salmon Plan, salmon recovery costs, dam operation and maintenance, sediment control, major dam repairs
Costs of removing the dams includes:
New Federal Columbia Snake River Salmon Plan, additional salmon recovery costs, dam removal and river restoration, power replacement, converting barge to rail transportation, increased shipping rates, irrigation investments, private well modifications, municipal and industrial water use modifications
Graphically represents costs associated with removing the dams
Results shown over 10-year and 20-year totals
Costs of keeping the four dams
$7.8 to $9.1 billion over a 10-year period
$15.7 to $18.2 billion over a 20-year period
Costs of removing the four dams and replacing the current dam benefits
$6.2 to $9.1 billion over a 10-year period
$11.1 to $16.6 billion over a 20-year period
Savings with dam removal
$12 million to $2 billion over 10 years, and $2 billion to $5 billion over 20 years
Dam removal will produce five-fold increase in new revenue
Recovered fish runs
Does the watershed have a management plan that needs criteria met?
Goals must be established with the dam removal in order to best manage the issue
Removal for Safety?
Removal for Costs of Maintenance?
Removal for migratory fish?
Removal for recreation?
Not all dams meet criteria for removal
Dams usefulness may out way environmental issues
Power Production vs. Migratory Fish, etc.
Community Views and their goals and objectives
Recreational River Users
Government (DNR, FBC, …)
Land Use Post-Dam Removal
Dam Density/ Connectivity
Special Concern Species
Water Quality Effects
Safety, Maintenance &Costs
Drawdown Removal Lower Snake River *Rank these by importance
Determine the number of dams on the stream.
Sets priority to streams based on how many dams would have to be removed in order to accomplish goal of removal.
How many miles of stream are opened after removal?
Can be 1 mile of main stem, but many miles of tributaries.
Fish that must pass through 5 dams with a 90% success rate will result in a 41% smaller population than initially (Gregory et.al. 2002)
(Gregory et.al. 2002))
Assessment of the habitat
Does the habitat mimic the natural setting?
Native fish species exist both above and below dam?
Is a CWF changed to a WWF due to the dam?
Removal will cause for wetland loss.
Was the dam established before or after the Clean Water Act?
CWA would claim these areas as wetlands if dam was constructed before CWA
Mitigation would be required if wetlands are lost
# of End. Species to benefit from removal
Klamath River, Oregon Salmon Kill caused by the inability to run upstream
Are there differences between upstream and downstream habitat?
New communities present between these hydrologically connected areas?
Will local/watershed water problems be alleviated by the removal of the dam?
More cold water downstream or less summer stress to fish.
Is it a HQ/EV CWF?
Due to their productivity, is the dam worth disturbing this quality fishery
Is it impacting a headwater stream?
Is the dam malfunctioning?
Is there a high risk of failure?
Who will be affected in the event of a failure?
Does the cost of maintenance exceed revenue generated?
Does the dam still serve its intended purpose?
Not your typical “dam”
Grassflat Run, Pennsylvania
Yet another issue with Abandoned Mines in Pennsylvania
RR Bridge left unmaintained clogged, creating a dam and blew out.
Is there a benefits for a sediment flush?
Coastal, Bar formation, bed load
Is it undesirable to flush the sediments?
Macroinvertebrates, Fish eggs, Downstream Aesthetics
Analysis conducted to see if the sediments are contaminated?
Lead, PCB, etc…
Can you sell the sediments?
Cobble, sediment, river rock have been sold for landscaping and other purposes
Pool/Riffle Development takes several years, depending on the # of discharges that can move sediment (Pizzuto, 2002)
Account for this in planning
Savage Rapids Dam, Rogue River Oregon Appx.200,000 yds^3 of sediment stored Flushing Chosen
An alternatives analysis was conducted in order to determine the most effective way to manage the dam, accounting for the social, ecological and economical benefits and costs.
Table 1. Comparison of Alternatives (WDNR) Table 2. Comparison of Environmental Consequences of the alternatives. (WDNR)
Classified a State Natural River Zone
Priority Removal by the Mich. DNR
Re-established the “rare, high-gradient reaches” in the Huron Watershed
Henry Ford made it for Electricity, but abandoned it after all the required land wasn’t obtained. Bridge is still used today.
No Longer serves its intended purpose
Alternatives analysis conducted to see benefits vs. cost
18 months of research conducted during analysis
Residents were asked to input in there ideas for the future of the dam
- Above is a photo looking upstream at the dam
Top-right shows the deteriorating dam and bridge
Right - Accumulated sediments with Purple Loosestrife
Dam removal is a viable option not only for ecological functions but also for social and economical reasons as well.
Beneficial results are site specific and may be able to be accomplished using other techniques.
Sites that are being considered for dam removal should conduct in depth research beforehand to see if it meets the criteria for a beneficial removal.
American Rivers, "Success Stories Report." American Rivers . 2007. 20 Apr 2008 <http://www.americanrivers.org/site/DocServer/SuccessStoriesReport.pdf?docID=221>. “
Collier, M.P., R.H. Webb, and E.D. Andrews. 1997. Experimental Flooding in the Grand Canyon. Scientific American 276:82-89.
Dam Repair or Removal: a Decision-Making Guide." WRM 2000 Decision-Making Process . 2000. University of Wisconsin. 12 Apr. 2008 <http://www.ies.wisc.edu/research/wrm00/econintro.htm>.
"Dam Failures and Incidents." Association of State Dam Safety Officials . 2008. Association of State Dam Safety Officials. 14 Apr. 2008 <http://www.damsafety.org/news/?p=412f29c8-3fd8-4529-b5c9-8d47364c1f3e>.
"Dam Safety in British Columbia - Who is Responsible?" Ministry of the Environment: Water Stewardship Division . 1995. Province of British Columbia. 14 Apr. 2008 <http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wsd/public_safety/dam_safety/responsible.html>.
"Dams: Do Costs Exceed Benefits?" 2007. Property and Environment Research Center. 15 Apr. 2008 <http://www.perc.org/perc.php?id=1021>.
Department of the Interior. 1995. Final Environmental Impact Statement: Elwha River Ecosystem Restoration, Olympic National Park, Washington, 674pp.
Gregory, Stan, Hiram Li, and Judy Li. "The Conceptual Basis for Ecological Responses to Dam Removal." Bioscience 52 (2002): 713-721. Proquest . Penn State Paterno Library, University Park, PA. 20 Apr. 2008.
Hill, M.J., E.A. Long and S. Hardin. 1993. Effects of Dam Removal on Dead Lake, Chipola River, Florida. Apalachicola River Watershed Investigations, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. A Wallop-Breaux Project F-39-R. 12 pp.
Michigan Department Of Natural Resources, and Michigan Department Of Environmental Quality (MDNR and MDEQ) . "Dam Removal Guidelines for Owners." (April 2004). 20 Apr. 2008 <http://www.michigandnr.com/PUBLICATIONS/PDFS/fishing/dams/DamRemovalGuidelinesForOwners.pdf>.
Orr, C.H., E.H. Stanley. 2006. Vegetation development and restoration potential of drained reservoirs following dam removal in Wisconsin. River Res. Appl. 22(3): 281-295.
Pizzuto, Jim. "Effects of Dam Removal on River Form and Process." Bioscience 52 (2002): 683-692. Proquest . Penn State Paterno Library, University Park, PA. 20 Apr. 2008.
Revenue Stream: An Economic Analysis of the Costs and Benefits of Removing the Four Dams on the Lower Snake River , Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, 2005.
REN21. 2006. “Renewables Global Status Report 2006 Update” (Paris: REN21 Secretariat and Washington, DC:Worldwatch Institute).
Riggs, Elizabeth H.W. "Case Studies in River Restoration Through Dam Removal - Argo Dam and Mill Pond Dam, Huron River Watershed, Michigan." The Huron River Watershed Council (June 2003). 20 Apr. 2008 <http://www.hrwc.org/pdf/dexterdam.pdf>.
"Spring Trout Stocking Cancelled At Lake Perez." PFBC 2008 Press Release . 25 Mar. 2008. Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. 14 Apr. 2008 <http://www.fish.state.pa.us/newsreleases/2008/perez_cancel.htm>.
Stanley, Emily H., and Martin W. Doyle. "Trading Off: the Ecological Effects of Dam Removal." Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 1 (2003): 15-22.
Stone Valley's Lake Perez." Stone Valley . 7 Feb. 2002. The Pennsylvania State University. 14 Apr. 2008 <http://www.psu.edu/ur/archives/intercom_2002/Feb7/stonevalley.html>.
Warrick, Jonathon. "Dam Removal on the Elwha River in Washington—Nearshore Impacts of Released Sediment." Sound Waves - USGS Coastal Science Newsletter . Feb. 2005. United States Geological Survey. 20 Apr. 2008 <http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2005/02/research.html>.
Wisconsin Department Of Natural Resources (WDNR). "Environmental Assessment of the Glenville (Linen Mill) Removal." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Federal Aid, Region 3 (September,2001). 20 Apr. 2008 <http://www.fws.gov/Midwest/nepa/GlenvilleDamNEPA/documents/Final928.PDF>.
Wisconsin DNR, "Dam Abandonment - Oak Street Dam, Baraboo, WI." Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources . 15 Aug 2006. 20 Apr 2008 <http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/gmu/lowerwis/oakstreet.htm>.