A multiscale approach to balance trade-offs among dam infrastructure, river restoration, and cost
Date of Original Version
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.
Roy, S. G., Uchida, E., de Sourza, S. P., Blachly, B., Fox, E., Gardner, K.,...Hart, D. (2018). A multiscale approach to balance trade-offs among dam infrastructure, river restoration, and cost. PNAS, 115(47), 12069-12074. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1807437115
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1807437115
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Emi Uchida and Ben Blachly are from the Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics.
Arthur J. Gold is from the Department of Natural Resources Science.