Synthesis of common management concerns associated with dam removal

Journal of the American Water Resources Association
By: , and 



Managers make decisions regarding if and how to remove dams in spite of uncertainty surrounding physical and ecological responses, and stakeholders often raise concerns about certain negative effects, regardless of whether or not these concerns are warranted at a particular site. We used a dam-removal science database supplemented with other information sources to explore seven frequently-raised concerns, herein Common Management Concerns (CMCs). We investigate the occurrence of these concerns and the contributing biophysical controls. The CMCs addressed are: degree and rate of reservoir sediment erosion, excessive channel incision upstream of reservoirs, downstream sediment aggradation, elevated downstream turbidity, drawdown impacts on local water infrastructure, colonization of reservoir sediments by non-native plants, and expansion of invasive fish. Biophysical controls emerged for some of the concerns, providing managers with information to assess whether a given concern is likely to occur at a site. To fully assess CMC risk, managers should concurrently evaluate site conditions and identify the ecosystem or human uses that will be negatively affected if the biophysical phenomenon producing the CMC occurs. We show how many CMCs have one or more controls in common, facilitating the identification of multiple risks at a site, and demonstrate why CMC risks should be considered in the context of other factors like natural watershed variability and disturbance history.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Synthesis of common management concerns associated with dam removal
Series title Journal of the American Water Resources Association
DOI 10.1111/1752-1688.12450
Volume 52
Issue 5
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center, John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis
Description 27 p.
First page 1179
Last page 1206
Country United States
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