Journal article

The future role of dams in the United States of America

Michelle Ho, Upmanu Lall, Maura Allaire, Naresh Devineni, Hyun Han Kwon, Indrani Pal, David Raff, David Wegner



Storage and controlled distribution of water have been key elements of a human strategy to overcome the space and time variability of water, which have been marked by catastrophic droughts and floods throughout the course of civilization. In the United States, the peak of dam building occurred in the mid-20th century with knowledge limited to the scientific understanding and hydrologic records of the time. Ecological impacts were considered differently than current legislative and regulatory controls would potentially dictate. Additionally, future costs such as maintenance or removal beyond the economic design life were not fully considered. The converging risks associated with aging water s..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by NSF

Awarded by Disaster and Safety Management Institute - Ministry of Public Safety and Security of the Korean government

Awarded by Division Of Earth Sciences

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank Connie Woodhouse from the School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona, for providing the Colorado streamflow reconstruction and providing feedback on the manuscript. We thank Francisco Assis Souza Filho for generating Figure 3 and Luc Bonnafous from the Columbia Water Center, Columbia University, for help with data collection. We would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for providing us with suggestions, insightful comments, and additional facts that improved the manuscript. M. Ho, U. Lall, I. Pal, and N. Devineni are funded by NSF award 1360446. M. Allaire is funded by a Nature Net Postdoctoral Fellowship, through the Nature Conservancy. H. H. Kwon is supported by a grant [MPSS-NH-201578] through the Disaster and Safety Management Institute funded by the Ministry of Public Safety and Security of the Korean government. Dams data may be obtained from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [2015] and Stanford University [2016]. Paleoclimate reconstructions may be obtained from Woodhouse et al. [2006b].