A multiscale approach to balance trade-offs among dam infrastructure, river restoration, and cost.

Academic Article


  • Aging infrastructure and growing interests in river restoration have led to a substantial rise in dam removals in the United States. However, the decision to remove a dam involves many complex trade-offs. The benefits of dam removal for hazard reduction and ecological restoration are potentially offset by the loss of hydroelectricity production, water supply, and other important services. We use a multiobjective approach to examine a wide array of trade-offs and synergies involved with strategic dam removal at three spatial scales in New England. We find that increasing the scale of decision-making improves the efficiency of trade-offs among ecosystem services, river safety, and economic costs resulting from dam removal, but this may lead to heterogeneous and less equitable local-scale outcomes. Our model may help facilitate multilateral funding, policy, and stakeholder agreements by analyzing the trade-offs of coordinated dam decisions, including net benefit alternatives to dam removal, at scales that satisfy these agreements.
  • Authors

  • Roy, Samuel G
  • Uchida, Emi
  • de Souza, Simone P
  • Blachly, Ben
  • Fox, Emma
  • Gardner, Kevin
  • Gold, Arthur J
  • Jansujwicz, Jessica
  • Klein, Sharon
  • McGreavy, Bridie
  • Mo, Weiwei
  • Smith, Sean MC
  • Vogler, Emily
  • Wilson, Karen
  • Zydlewski, Joseph
  • Hart, David
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • November 20, 2018
  • Keywords

  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Ecology
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Restoration and Remediation
  • New England
  • Rivers
  • United States
  • Water Supply
  • dams
  • multicriteria decision analysis
  • multiobjective genetic algorithm
  • rivers
  • trade-offs
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 12069
  • End Page

  • 12074
  • Volume

  • 115
  • Issue

  • 47