Removing Dams of the American Industrial Revolution in the Northeastern U.S. to Restore Natural Capital Against Climate Change

Interested in watching this video? You have two options:

This video is part of the SER Conference Library. If you want to learn more about this resource please see this guide.

Buy a pass

You can purchase a pass for this video on our website.

Already purchased access to this video, or want to redeem credit for a new order? Just enter your order number or email below:

SER Member?
Sign in below to get unrestricted access:

Geoffrey M. Goll, P.E.

Publication Date:

Since the first thirteen British colonies were established where what is now known as the Eastern United States, rivers and streams were the engine of the economies of the US Northeast (generally considered West Virginia to Maine). Nearly every linear foot of rivers was dammed for processing of the, then, vast resources of timber, and then grain, paper, and other early industrial products. As a result, much of the riverine and riparian functions and values have been altered forever. Since the 1990s, there has been momentum for the removal of obsolete dams, with a focus on the restoration of migratory fish routes, and the removal of drowning and flood hazards of these structures. But focusing on these issues have only managed to allow for the removal of dams along coastal waters as “first blockages”, with most funding coming from governmental grants. With the growing recognition of rivers as natural capital in fighting the impacts of climate change, there are new opportunities for public‐private partnerships in restoring the functions and values of riverine systems. This presentation will discuss opportunities and innovation to restore the natural capital of river systems through dam removal, including natural resource damages compensation, mitigation for infrastructure construction, flood mitigation, nutrient reduction, and coastal sediment replenishment. Through the exploration of these specific projects, ecosystem uplift outcomes will be provided that illustrate how rivers have been set on a trajectory of recovering and self‐sustaining ecosystem services for human benefit; how countries could think “out of the box” to address failing dams and climate change within the urban environment; and provide lessons learned for developing countries as they navigate growing economies and populations.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program