Decommissioning (removal) of dams is appropriate and preferred when the dam no longer provides value to the owner or users. Each dam removal project is unique and can involve multiple stakeholder groups and require authorizations or permits from multiple programs within the Department as well as other local and federal entities and coordination with community stakeholders. The Dam Safety Division has developed Dam Safety Policy Memorandum #6 – Dam Decommissioning
to provide general concepts to be considered when planning and executing a dam decommissioning project.
Dam repairs, and removals can be costly. The Department encourages dam owners to develop a Financial Action Plan (FAP), including a rainy day fund, to ensure that owners are prepared for long-term maintenance costs, significant repairs, or removal of dams. Currently there are no State funding sources specifically dedicated to removal of dams. However, a number of State and National resources exist that may provide financial assistance to dam owners if the proposed project aligns with the funds objectives.
The United Stated Society on Dams published the Guidelines for Dam Decommissioning Projects
in 2015. This document provides dam owners, dam engineers, and other professionals with the information necessary to help guide decision-making when considering dam removal as a project alternative. These Guidelines may also help in the development and execution of a successful dam decommissioning project, which would include all necessary activities associated with the removal of a dam and restoration of the river, from project planning through design and implementation.
The non-profit organization American Rivers has developed the following documents that pertain to dam removals across the United States:
For more information, you may call us at (410) 537-3538 or reach us at our mailing address:
Dam Safety Program
Water and Science Administration
Maryland Department of the Environment
1800 Washington Boulevard, Ste. 440
Baltimore, Maryland 21230-1708