Resources by Topic

Resources by Topic: Dam Removal


Throughout U.S. history, dams have provided a variety of benefits, including hydropower; navigation; recreation; water supply for domestic, industrial, and agricultural use; and other useful purposes to our society. Most dams in the U.S. were built more than half a century ago and many have outlived their initial planned purposes. As dams age, they require increasingly extensive and expensive maintenance and/or rehabilitation; continue to impose adverse environmental impacts on upstream and downstream aquatic ecosystems; present potential safety impacts to the public residing downstream or recreating in the vicinity of the dam; and continue to be a liability to dam owners. Many public and private dam owners throughout the nation are faced with the difficult choice between undertaking costly dam upgrades or opting for a typically less expensive - though not necessarily less complex - option of dam removal. Weighing the costs and benefits of each option can be a highly complex task.


To be proficient in this area one needs to understand and/or have experience in the following areas:

  • safety inspections for existing dams
  • regulatory processes involved in the rehabilitation or removal of a dam
  • watershed planning
  • community/business/personal dam-related decision making
  • ability to thoroughly assess and understand a dam's environmental, economic, and social benefits and impacts
  • consideration of community values as they relate to the dam and upstream impoundment
  • public communications

Classroom and Web-Based Training

For additional training, search the ASDSO Training Calendar.

Research & Suggested References

Listed below are some of the most highly recommended resources on dam removal. For additional resources, search the ASDSO Bibliography. Suggested search terms: removal, decision-making, environment, permits, restoration, social aspects, financial aspects, benefits


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