Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Dam removal; a history of decision points

Laura Wildman
Dam removal; a history of decision points (in The challenges of dam removal and river restoration, Jerome V. De Graff (editor) and James E. Evans (editor))
Reviews in Engineering Geology (2013) 21: 1-10


In the northeastern United States, we have been removing dams for almost as long as we have been building them, yet many communities involved in current decisions to repair, replace, or remove a dam are not aware of this. This paper highlights some of the stories that have been recorded regarding the history of decision points for dams, including the colorful history of the Billerica Dam in Massachusetts, which has been removed and rebuilt numerous times and is now under consideration for removal for at least the sixth time in its 300 yr history. By understanding that dam removal is just one of the potential dam safety decisions that needs to be analyzed over the life cycle of a dam, and that dams are man-made structures with finite life spans, we can deconstruct the notion of dam removal as a radical concept. Dam removal is just one of many dam safety options that may be discussed over the course of a dam's history. It is most commonly implemented when a dam no longer serves any economic purpose that justifies the expense of maintaining the dam structure. In the past, dams have been removed for many of the same reasons that we remove dams today; however, the procedures currently required to remove a dam are far more complex and highly regulated. This has led to increased documentation of dam removal efforts and now allows us to compare and categorize dam removal projects, such that the lessons learned from these projects can be incorporated into a more informed decision-making process in the future.

ISSN: 0080-2018
EISSN: 2169-799X
Coden: GAEGA4
Serial Title: Reviews in Engineering Geology
Serial Volume: 21
Title: Dam removal; a history of decision points
Title: The challenges of dam removal and river restoration
Author(s): Wildman, Laura
Author(s): De Graff, Jerome V.editor
Author(s): Evans, James E.editor
Affiliation: Princeton Hydro LLC, Glastonbury, CT, United States
Affiliation: U. S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Clovis, CA, United States
Pages: 1-10
Published: 2013
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 19
Accession Number: 2013-055444
Categories: Engineering geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. chart
N42°33'30" - N42°33'30", W71°16'08" - W71°16'08"
Secondary Affiliation: Bowling Green State University, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute.
Update Code: 201334
Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal