Dam Removal

Milltown Dam 2008

Missoula and the Clark Fork River were home to one of the most significant dam removals that have occurred, when Milltown Dam was removed in 2008. But this only one of over 1200 dam removals that have occurred in the United States. Andrew Wilcox and his students have intensively studied both the Milltown Dam removal and the removal of Condit Dam from the White Salmon River, Washington (2011). More recently, Wilcox has contributed insights from his group’s research to a working group on “Dam removal: Synthesis of ecological and physical responses,” convened through the USGS John Wesley Powell Center, that is bringing together dam-removal scientists from around the country to synthesize what we have learned from recent dam removal research. Links to a dam-removal database and publications resulting from this effort can be found here: https://powellcenter.usgs.gov/view-project/526ae54ae4b0be4db9fbf979

Milltown Dam 2008

Milltown Dam, Clark Fork River, following breaching; spring 2008.


Milltown Dam 2014

Former Milltown Dam site, spring 2014.

Dam removal graph

(A) U.S. dam removals by decade. (B) Rates of reservoir sediment erosion for 16 recent U.S. dam removals. Figure from O'Connor JE, Duda JJ Grant GE. 2015. 1000 dams down and counting. Science 348(6234): 496–497. doi:10.1126/science.aaa9204.