Modelling the Effects of Dams

NASA image of 3 gorges

Why dams matter...

"This century we have collectively bought, on average, one large dam per day."

-World Commission on Dams, 2000

Dams deliver many benefits, but often at a high price with adverse and lasting impacts. Though this dam modeling project, we are forming lasting and productive collaborations around the direct explication and assessment of the socioeconomic, biophysical and geopolitical impacts, both beneficial and nonbeneficial, associated with dams. Through the development of new tools that examine how dams stimulate change and how we may project potential ecological, economic, and socio-cultural outcomes of such change, this project may reduce uncertainty and risks associated with constructing (and removing) dams.

 

"Dams have long escaped deep and clear and impartial
scrutiny into the process by which they emerge and are valued"

-Kader Asmal (2000) , Chair, World Commission on Dams


hobart and william smith colleges logo

national science foundation logo

i dam logo

 

China Study

Why study dams in China?

Regional distribution of dams (from WCD 2000) Lancang River

This project is investigating the potential impacts of hydropower development in the Nu (Salween) and Lancang (Mekong) Rivers of China through the integrated assessment of biophysical, socio-economic, and geopolitical outcomes. We are evaluating the role of dams as agents of change on the ecological, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of a community, using the geopolitical condition as an indication of the resiliency of the human system to accommodate those changes. To make such an evaluation, we first developed IDAM (Interdisciplinary Dam Assessment Model) as an interdisciplinary tool to a) increase transparency of and inform decisionmaking, and b) to research how people make decisions. General goals of the current project are to 1) promote an international and interdisciplinary research community, 2) apply the IDAM tool to investigate questions around how people make decisions 3) evaluate distribution of impacts for specific projects in the Nu and Lancang basins on cultural, geographical, and ecological communities.

In addition to the general development and application of the IDAM tool, our current analysis includes detailed inquiries into the effects of dams on social and environmental dynamics. For example, we have used event mapping to develop a chronosequence of conflict and cooperation for the purpose of identifying the drivers of conflict and change for the two river basins over time, both within and outside of China. This analysis also includes a mapping of conflict and change hotspots to evaluate the extent to which dams modify social and environmental dynamics over space. These analyses allow us to develop and analyze hypotheses stemming from several questions regarding hydropower development as an agent of change. Do geographical and cultural links to the river affect the degree of benefits or losses associated with dam construction based on organizational scales? Do drivers identified in Mekong River basin also drive the most profound changes in the Nu River? What are the critical links between environmental and social welfare and dynamics? 

A second inquiry explores scenarios for building dams that minimize their negative impacts on social and environmental quality.  This inquiry addresses a second set of questions regarding dams as agents of change, and leads to understanding and recommendation for informing future hydropower development and management.   What scenarios allow the greatest potential for mitigating policies and environmental changes (e.g. climate variability) to result in a future different than that predicted by history-based scenarios?  What is the relative scale of cumulative effects for many small, decentralized hydropower development relative to large, mainstem projects? How does relocation induce group-identity conflicts (e.g. ethnic clashes)? Do changes in local resource availability result in deprivation conflicts (e.g. civil strife and insurgency)?

A third inquiry targets improving understanding on decisionmaking around dams. For these analyses, we are applying the IDAM tool, using the data collected in the Nu and Lancang basins, in a decisiontheater format with representatives of dam building and regulating agencies, as well as environmental and social NGOs, in China and internationally. Through a series of survey questions throughout the decision theater, we are investigating how information, individual values, and views on risk influence decisionmaking. For example, we ask:  How does informing the stakeholders of impact magnitude influence their prioritization of the impacts?  How are different design alternatives ranked by different stakeholders? What decision rules are stakeholders using to assign ranking of alternatives? What alternatives are indistinguishable in terms of views on risk? and salience? How much change in salience of attribute performance does it take to shift the ranking of alternatives?

Research Sites

IDAM calibration:

Lancang (Mekong) and Nu (Salween) River Basins

Yunnan Province, People's Republic of China

 

 

Lancang River Basin

The Lancang (upper Mekong) River has its source in Qinghai’s Yushu Tibetan Nationality Autonomous County, some 5500 m above sea level in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It then flows roughly 2400 km through Qinghai, Tibet, and Yunnan before leaving China and winding its way through portions of Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Fully half the river’s length lies within China. The river’s drop in Yunnan – some 1780 m – has long attracted the attention of China’s hydropower planners keen to develop some of the 25 GW of theoretical capacity (100 TWh annual output) on that stretch of the river. The Lancang’s remote location, distance from load centers, and challenging terrain, however, meant that detailed planning didn’t really get underway until the 1980s.

The Lancang encompasses glacial, riverine, lake, and groundwater hydrological characteristics, ranging from arctic to tropical in nature. Within Yunnan, the basin is home to approximately 5 million people, many of whom are members of ethnic minority groups who have yet to see many of the benefits of the rapid economic development witnessed by China in recent years.

As of 2010, there are several dams in various stages of operation on the Lancang within Yunnan: Manwan, Dachaoshan, and Jinghong (completed); Xiaowan and Nuozhadu (underway); and Ganlanba, Mengsong, and Gongguoqiao (preliminary work). Up to six other dams on the upper Lancang in Yunnan are also in various stages of planning and design.

Nu River Basin

The Nu (upper Salween) River is one of the most remote and least developed rivers in China. The river’s name in Chinese means “angry,” which may be attributed to the steep route it takes from its headwaters at 4840 m above sea level in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to its mouth at the Andaman Sea off southern Myanmar. On the way, the Nu traverses some 2000 km in Tibet and Yunnan before winding its way through Myanmar for another 800 km, where it briefly forms the border between Myanmar and Thailand. Over its 621-km course in Yunnan, the river drops 1116 m, yielding a theoretical hydropower capacity of some 21 GW (roughly 103 TWh annual output).

The Nu is a watershed of superlatives. In addition to being one of the most remote, it is also one of the deepest gorges on the planet, home to some of China’s richest cultural and biological diversity, and the site of some of the province’s and the country’s poorest areas. Even more remote than the Lancang, the Nu has yet to see large-scale development of its hydropower, in part due to concern that such development would impinge upon internationally recognized sites of cultural and biological importance. In March 2004 the projects were officially halted by Premier Wen Jiabao, allegedly for failure to comply with environmental impact assessment reporting requirements. While none of the 13 projects planned for the Nu has yet been officially approved, preliminary work, including construction of resettlement villages and relocation of villagers away from planned reservoir sites, is underway.

Publications

Peer-reviewed Manuscripts

  1. Tullos, D.D., P.H. Brown, K.M. Kibler, D. Magee, B. Tilt, and A.T. Wolf, 2010. Perspectives on salience and magnitide of dam impacts for hydrodevelopment scenarios in China. Water Alternatives 3(2): 71-90.

  2. Brown, P.H., and Y.L. Xu, 2010. Hydropower devlopment and resettlement policy on China's Nu River. Journal of Contemporary China, 66(19): 777-797.

  3. Brown, P.H., D. Magee, and Y.L. Xu, 2010. Socioeconomic vulnerability in China's hydropower development. China Economic Review, 19(4): 614-627.

  4. Brown, P.H., et al., 2008. Modeling the costs and benefits of dam construction from a multidisciplinary perspective, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.025

Journal of Environmental Management Special Issue

  1. Tullos, D., Introduction to the special issue: Understanding and linking the biophysical, socioeconomic and geopolitical effects of dams, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), oi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.08.018

  2. Tullos, D., Assessing the influence of environmental impact assessments on science and policy: An analysis of
    the Three Gorges Project, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.031

  3. Burke, M., et al., Application of a hierarchical framework for assessing environmental impacts of dam operation:Changes in streamflow, bed mobility and recruitment of riparian trees in a western North American river, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.022

  4. Schmitz, D., et al., Using historic aerial photography and paleohydrologic techniques to assess long-term ecological response to two Montana dam removals, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.028

  5. Bohlen, C., Lynne Y. Lewis, Examining the economic impacts of hydropower dams on property values using GIS, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), oi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.026

  6. Wyrick, J.R. et al., Using hydraulic modeling to address social impacts of small dam removals in southern New Jersey, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.027

  7. Tilt, B., et al., Social impacts of large dam projects: A comparison of international case studies and implications for best practice, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.030

  8. McNally, A., et al., Hydropower and sustainability: Resilience and vulnerability in China’s powersheds, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.029

  9. McDonald, K., et al., Exporting dams: China’s hydropower industry goes global, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.023

  10. Meierotto, L., The uneven geographies of transnational advocacy: The case of the Talo Dam, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.024

  11. Brown, P.H., Modeling the costs and benefits of dam construction from a multidisciplinary perspective, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.025

Conference Proceedings

  1. Brown: 'Energy Sustainability and Socioeconomic Development in the People's Republic of China,' Colby Club of Hawaii (Honolulu,Hawaii), January 2010.

  2. Brown: 'Energy Sustainability and Socioeconomic Development in the People's Republic of China,' Colby Leadership Council (New York,New York), October 2009.

  3. Brown: 'Energy, Dams, and Development in Rural China', World Affairs Council of Maine (Brunswick, Maine), April 2010.

  4. Brown, P. and Xu, Y. 2010. Dams and Development in the Nu River Valley? Chinese Economists Society, June 19-21, 2010 in Xiamen, China.

  5. Foster-Moore, E. 2010. Information Flow in Dam-Affected Communities. Chinese Economists Society, June 19-21, 2010 in Xiamen, China.

  6. Brown, P. and Xu, Q. 2010. Behavioral Responses to Nu Dam Construction in Yunnan, China. Chinese Economists Society, June 19-21, 2010 in Xiamen, China.

  7. Magee: Invited Lecture, 'Sustaining China: Challenges and Opportunities in Water, Energy, and Society,' National Youth Science Foundation (Charleston, West Virginia), June 29, 2010.

  8. Magee: Invited Lecture (via teleconference), 'China's Transboundary Rivers: Dams, Development, & Institutions,' Workshop on China Water Scarcity, Society and Adaptation, Oxford University (Oxford, UK), June 15, 2010.

  9. Tullos, D., P. Brown, D. Magee, and B. Tilt. 2010. 'Assessing and Modeling Dam Impacts in China.' Half the World 2010: Energy andEnvironment in East Asia. Research Symposium. Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York, February.

  10. Tilt, B. 2009. Dams and Development in Southwest China: Implications for Yunnan's Minority Nationalities.' American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December.

  11. Clark, M. and B. Tilt. 2009. 'Dams and Development in China: Working Toward Greater Transparency in Decision-making.' Society for Applied Anthropology, Annual Meeting, Santa Fe, New Mexico, March.

  12. Brown, P. and Xu, Y. 2010. Dams and Development in the Nu River Valley? Chinese Economists Society, June 19-21, 2010 in Xiamen, China.

  13. Foster-Moore, E. 2010. Information Flow in Dam-Affected Communities. Chinese Economists Society, June 19-21, 2010 in Xiamen, China.

  14. Brown, P. and Xu, Q. 2010. Behavioral Responses to Nu Dam Construction in Yunnan, China. Chinese Economists Society, June 19-21, 2010 in Xiamen, China.

  15. Magee: Invited Lecture (via teleconference), 'China's Transboundary Rivers: Dams, Development, & Institutions,' Workshop on China Water Scarcity, Society and Adaptation, Oxford University (Oxford, UK), June 15, 2010.

  16. Tullos, D., P. Brown, D. Magee, and B. Tilt. 2010. 'Assessing and Modeling Dam Impacts in China.' Half the World 2010: Energy and Environment in East Asia. Research Symposium. Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York, February.

  17. Tilt, B. 2009. Dams and Development in Southwest China: Implications for Yunnan's Minority Nationalities.' American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December.

  18. Clark, M. and B. Tilt. 2009. 'Dams and Development in China: Working Toward Greater Transparency in Decision-making.' Society for Applied Anthropology, Annual Meeting, Santa Fe, New Mexico, March.

IDAM Theses

  1. Clark, M. 2009. Climbing the mountain within: understanding development impacts and overcoming change in rural southwest China. MA thesis. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
  2. Lin, E . 2009. Water's role in a sense of place in the Nu River Valley. MA project. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

Integrative Dam Assessment Modelling (IDAM)

Integrative Dam Assessment Modelling (IDAM)

To meet the simultaneous demands for water, energy, and environmental protection well into the future, a broader view of dams is needed. We thus propose and apply a new tool for evaluating the relative costs and benefits of dam construction based on multi-objective planning techniques.

The Integrative Dam Assessment Modeling (IDAM) tool is designed to integrate biophysical, socioeconomic, and geopolitical perspectives into a single cost/benefit analysis of dam construction. Each of 21 different impacts of dam construction is evaluated both objectively (e.g., flood protection, as measured by RYI years) and subjectively (i.e., the valuation of said flood protection) by a team of decision-makers. By providing a visual representation of the various costs and benefits associated with two or more dams, the IDAM tool allows decision-makers to evaluate alternatives and to articulate priorities associated with a dam project, making the decision process about dams more informed and more transparent. For all of these reasons, we believe that the IDAM tool represents an important evolutionary step in dam evaluation.

 

Links

Overview Presentation

OSU Press Release

Interview with International Rivers

Other Press (Waterpower Magazine, Hydrokinetic News, KVAL, Sciguru)

Impacts and Indicators

Socioeconomic, biophysical, geopolitical

Socioeconomic                                    Biophysical                                 Geopolitical

Biophysical Impacts and Indicators

Biophysical Impacts and Indicators

BIOPHYSICAL

IMPACT NAME

POSITIVE SCOPE  OF IMPACT

NEGATIVE SCOPE  OF IMPACT

INDICATOR

BP1:  water quality

Reservoir stores heavy metals, pesticides, PCBs

changes cycling of nutrients, carbon, DO, TSS, temperature, periphyton

reservoir retention time

BP2:  biodiversity

Habitat created for rare/endemic species

rare or endemic species affected; quality of affected habitats or sensitive ecosystems; potential creation of new habitat 

index of habitat quality- habitat classification, species occurrence

BP3:  sediment

Reservoir stores anthropogenic sources of sediment eroded from upstream

 DS channel changes:  degradation/aggradation; modification to grain size distribution, depositional features, and channel morphology  

trap efficiency of dam, percentage of basin that contributes to the dam

BP4:  natural flow regime

Food protection, storage for irrigation, domestic, or industrial use

changes to historic hydrograph-  magnitude, duration, timing, and frequency of high and low flows; channel morphology, DS degradation/aggradation, migration or spawning cues, substrate conditions, condition of  riparian vegetation

Carryover storage – (0) run of river (1) seasonal storage (2) annual storage and (3) multiple year storage

BP5:  climate and air quality

Reduced equivalent emission of GHG from coal

Reservoir methane emissions

amount of GHG emitted from equivalent MW of coal power generation- energy density (MW/unit area of reservoir)

BP6:  landscape stability

 

Reservoir-induced seismicity, Landslide potential

weight of reservoir, distance to faults, landslide hazard, grade of slopes, erosivity of soils 

BP7:  impact area

Lentic habitat created

Loss of riverine, riparian, and terrestrial habitat

surface area of the reservoir, length of river impounded, length of power transmission lines, habitat classification data

Geopolitical Impacts and Indicators

Geopolitical Impacts and Indicators

GEOPOLITICAL

IMPACT NAME

POSITIVE SCOPE  OF IMPACT

NEGATIVE SCOPE  OF IMPACT

INDICATOR

GP1: Basin Population Affected

Dam provides benefits to basin residents  such as hydropower, irrigation, navigation, water improvements, and employment

Dam creates costs to basin residents such as loss of cropland, forced resettlement, damage to fisheries, or loss of livelihood

Share of basin population affected either positively or negatively as percentage of entire basin population

GP2: Political Complexity

Basin-wide management may increase and induce dialog that fosters improved inter-jurisdictional relations; IWM may lead to greater efficiencies

Basin-wide management may lead to greater tensions among riparians and reduces efficiencies

Number and type of boundaries crossed. Despite differences in a large dam on a tributary versus a small dam on a tributary, we assume that impacts will nonetheless be basin-wide, and that magnitude and salience will appropriately capture the extent and relevance of those impacts. Source: GIS data/maps

GP3: Legal Framework

Strong laws help mitigate the impacts of change; existing basin agreements and associated River Basin Organizations (RBOs) help reduce vulnerability throughout basin

Laws and other institutions are weak or nonexistent, and insufficient to mitigate negative impacts or reduce vulnerability

Administrative level of highest legal framework governing dam site (e.g., international, county-level, etc.). NB: If potential veto exists due to Endangered Species Act or similar, then check for overall legal feasibility of project

GP4: Domestic Governance – civil society (Democracy Index)

Decision processes are open and transparent; governmental management capacity is robust; civil dialogue is open and active

Decisions processes are closed and obfuscated; governmental management capacity is limited; civil dialogue is limited/constrained

Democracy Index

GP5: Political Stability (intranational)

Cooperation during planning, construction, operation, and management phases leads to the establishment or strengthening of institutional arrangements and promotes improved relations among relevant administrative areas (internal)

Lack of cooperation during planning, construction, and operation, and management phases, or other conflicts related to project, increases tensions in relations among relevant administrative areas (internal)

Internal BAR scale

GP6: Political Stability (international)

Cooperation during planning, construction, and operation, and management phases leads to the establishment or strengthening of institutional arrangements and promotes improved relations among relevant administrative areas (international)

Lack of cooperation during planning, construction, and operation, and management phases, or other conflicts related to project, increases tensions in relations among relevant administrative areas (international)

International BAR scale

GP7: Impacts on non-constituents

Dam construction provides positive impacts (e.g. improved access to electricity, improved flood control, etc.) for individuals and communities outside the immediate area of the dam (other counties, municipalities, provinces, countries).

Dam construction causes negative impacts (e.g. damage to fisheries, property, or livelihoods) for individuals and communities outside the immediate area of the dam (other counties, municipalities, provinces, countries)

Index of spatial extent and magnitude of impacts based on analysis of reports from media, hydropower companies, government, and non-governmental sources.

Socioeconomic Impacts & Indicators

Socioeconomic Impacts & Indicators

SOCIOECONOMIC

IMPACT NAME

POSITIVE SCOPE  OF IMPACT

NEGATIVE SCOPE  OF IMPACT

INDICATOR

SE1: Social Capital

Dams may facilitate transportation across rivers, integrating less accessible portions of communities with the rest of the community

People from one community may be resettled into multiple new communities, disrupting social cohesion

Buckner Scale, based on household surveys, qualitative interviews

SE2: Cultural Change

Dams may instill national pride

Inundation of tombs, religious sites, and other areas of cultural significance; loss of traditional knowledge regarding the ecosystem

index of impacts on material culture; knowledge of the local ecosystem; sense of place from household surveys and community surveys

SE3: Local Hydropower Access

Communities that were once isolated or that relied on small hydro or alternative forms of electricity generation may be connected to the grid

Prices of electricity may rise as the source of power may be farther away

index of frequency and price from household surveys and community surveys

SE4: Health Impacts

Water treatment facilities may improve the quality of drinking water

The prevalence of chistosomiasis and malaria and other water-borne diseases may increase as the breeding grounds for hosts increases

index of drinking water quality, water-borne illness, toxicity from household surveys and community surveys

SE5: Income

Incomes may rise as off-farm opportunities working on dam construction arise; government transfers

Inundation of agricultural land may imply reduced incomes for farmers

income share of watershed average from household surveys, community surveys, and State Statistical Bureau data

SE6: Wealth

The quality of housing and/or land in resettlement communities may exceed that in the affected area

Evacuees may deplete resources re-establishing themselves in resettlement communities

Housing and Land Values, as a share of watershed average from household surveys, community surveys, and State Statistical Bureau data

SE7: Macro Impacts

New roads and other forms of infrastructure for dam development may have positive spillovers for tourism and other industries; money spent on dam construction may dramatically increase local economic activity

Resettlement of displaced peoples may be costly

index of the cost of resettlement, costs of infrastructure, and present commercial value of hydropower produced from community surveys, State Statistical Bureau data, and ?

Visualizing the Interdisciplinary Impacts of Dams

Visualizing the Interdisciplinary Impacts of Dams

IDAM (Integrative Dam Assessment Model) was developed as an interdisciplinary tool to a) increase transparency and inform decisionmaking, and b) to research how people make decisions.  Thus, a unique attribute of the tool is representation of both the magnitude of impacts and the decisionmakers view on the salience, or importance, of impacts.  In visualization both magnitude and salience for three thematic areas (biophysical, socioeconomic, and geopolitical) of impacts, a great deal of information becomes loaded onto an IDAM visualization.  Thus, we worked with a computer scientist and visualization expert (Mike Bailey) and performed surveys to compare visualizations.  The goals were to assess how easily and accurately people across disciplines could acquire information from the figures.
As a general process, we worked with Mike to identify questions that tested both people's preferences and accuracy in extracting information.  We then developed a survey in which we:

  • Assess demographics (e.g. gender, age, highest level of education, discipline, highest level of math, color blindness) of the survey participants
  • Explained how to read two figure options (amoeba and color saturation bar)
  • Provided data on competing dam design alternatives as a narrative, and then provided the data on impacts for the two figure options and as a table of numbers.
  • Asked students to find specific information from the figure to evaluate their accuracy with the different figures.
  • Asked students to interpret the pattern that they see.
  • Asked students to report which figure was more comfortable and what was pleasing/displeasing about the different figures?

          Amoeba Diagram                                 Bar Graph                                   Survey & Results

Amoeba Diagram

Amoeba Diagram

 

Each of 21 impacts is broken into five sub-sections (each representing 2 2⁄3 of the circle) that classify the objective magnitude of the effect on a six-point scale (Likert, 1932), ranging from 0 for ‘‘no impact’’ to 5 for ‘‘extreme impact.’ Then, the binned magnitude and salience are plotted in green, with the radius of the circle representing the magnitude, while the arc of the circle represents the salience. Note that a different figure exist for a costs assessment and for a benefits assessment.  The sum of the shaded area for a completed IDAM characterization represents the aggregated costs and benefits.

Bar Graph

Bar Graph

Each of the 21 indicators are coded on a six-point scale (Likert, 1932), ranging from 0 for ‘‘no impact’’ to 5 for ‘‘extreme impact.’ The positive (green) values represent benefits, while the negative (red) values represent costs. Color saturation represents stakeholders’ views on the salience of the individual indicators.

Survey & Results

Survey & Results

Survey Format

Section 1: Demographics

  1. Gender (m/f)
  2. Age (continuous)
  3. Undergraduate student? (yes/no)
  4. Undergraduate or graduate major (fill-in)
  5. Terms remaining until expected graduation (continuous)
  6. What is the highest level math course you have taken? (fill-in)
  7. How many terms of math since the beginning of high school? (continuous)
  8. Have you ever taken a Computer Science course?
  9. If yes, how many terms of computer science have you taken?
  • Did you attend the in-class IDAM presentation? (y/n)
  • Are you color blind? (y/n)

Section 2: Saturated bar graph of Case I:

Purpose: Can people accurately interpret information presented in this visualization?  
Case I:  High biophysical costs (no one cares), big socioeconomic benefits (lots of people care), few geopolitical impacts.

  • Which sphere of impact are stakeholders most concerned about? (SE/GP/BP)
  • Which sphere of impact are stakeholders least concerned about? (SE/GP/BP)
  • Which sphere bears the greatest costs of this dam? (SE/GP/BP)
  • Which sphere is most important to stakeholders? (SE/GP/BP)
  • Which of the negative socioeconomic impacts do stakeholders think of as the most important? (SE1-7: SE2)
  • Which socioeconomic impact has the greatest positive magnitude? (SE1-7: SE5)

Section 3: Ameoba diagram of Case II:

Purpose: Can people accurately interpret information presented in this visualization?  
Case II:  Few biophysical impacts, big socioeconomic benefit (lots of people care), high geopolitical costs (some people care).

  • Which sphere of impact are stakeholders most concerned about? (SE/GP/BP)
  • Which sphere of impact are stakeholders least concerned about? (SE/GP/BP)
  • Which sphere bears the greatest costs of this dam? (SE/GP/BP)
  • Which sphere is most important to stakeholders? (SE/GP/BP)
  • Which of the negative socioeconomic impacts do stakeholders think of as the most important? (SE1-7)
  • Which socioeconomic impact has the greatest positive magnitude? (SE1-7)

Section 4: Present two different dams using one visualization, then present two dams using the second visualization.

Purpose: Determine which visualization facilitates accurate comparisons between the dams.
Question included:

  • Which dam has the greatest biophysical impact?
  • In which scenario do stakeholders care most about geopolitical impacts?

Sample of students surveyed

  • Humanities - Int’l Studies, English, Languages, Education
  • Social sciences - NM Comm, Geography, Psychology, Business, Political science, Anthropology, Economics
  • Natural sciences and Engineering - Food Science, Biology, Engineering, Chemistry, Math

Survey Results

  • Students found the bar charts easier to understand than the amoeba diagrams.
  • People like up being up – increasing/benefit is up, decreasing/cost is down.
  • Once they had gained more experience with the amoeba diagram, students found it to be more informative than the bar charts.
  • Students with experience in abstractions (math) and with reading graphical displays of information more accurately extracted information from the figures.

Example Applications

Example IDAM analysis for hypothetic dam scenarios in Columbia River Basin (Brown et al. 2009) 

Scenario: High Impact Dam

This hypothetical new dam site is located on the main stem of a large river in the Unites States, with the primary objective of providing a reliable source of irrigation water and a secondary objective of producing hydropower. It is a wide (820 m) and relatively short (21 m) structure, blocking passage for three species of endangered salmon as listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to an 88 km spawning habitat and leaving 18 km dry downstream during very dry years.

Because of the generally low slope of the river valley, the reservoir will have a high surface area and will inundate two Native American reservation communities comprising nearly 1000 people in total. Archaeological digs have recently discovered artifacts of a community dating back to 2200 years within the inundated area, and sites of spiritual importance will be submerged. The residents of the affected communities will be relocated outside of the valley to a reservation in the dry grassland 200 km away. Water is not immediately accessible at the relocation site, but the U.S. government has agreed to dig wells for the displaced communities. However, no agreements have yet been signed between the communities and the federal government because the residents are concerned that the wells will be insufficient to meet their water needs. Employment opportunities will exist at the new reservation in the form of a newly constructed casino. Educational programs will be developed at the new site for the relocated residents.

The benefits and costs of this high-impact dam are described in the IDAM circles presented in Fig. 3. Note that the objective metrics and subjective valuations have been estimated for this hypothetical dam for illustrative purposes (see Table 5 for detail); for a true IDAM evaluation, a decision-making team must provide the data for metrics and valuations. In addition, recall that an impact without shading implies that there is no objective impact and/or that the subjective valuation associated with that impact is zero. Subtracting the total cost (Panel B) from the total benefit (Panel A)
in the IDAM tool indicates a net cost of 10 units as follows: net cost of 58 units to biophysical impacts; net benefit of 23 units to socioeconomic
indicators; and net benefit of 25 units to geopolitical indicators. This outcome is compared to the net benefit (or cost) of a low-impact dam built on a tributary of the dam below.

Amoeba Visualization

Magnitude of impact is measured along the arc of each pie piece, while the subjective valuable of the impact is represented by the radius length of each impact.  From this hypothetical example, a great disparity between overall costs and benefits is not evident, though the amoeba diagrams indicate that while a bulk of the costs (left) are imposed on biophysical and socio-economic elements of the study community, the benefits tend to be applied to socio-economic and geopolitical elements of the study community.  These graphs, along with spatial mapping of the costs and benefits, can useful for evaluating hypotheses about distribution of dam impacts. 

Collaborators & Colleagues

Collaborators & Colleagues

Oregon State University

 

 

 

Hobart and Willam Smith Colleges

 

 

Asian International Rivers Centre (Yunnan University)

 

Yangtze River Fisheries Institute

China Rivers Project

Social Science Research Council

Symposia

Symposia

Sardar Sarovar Dam on the River Narmada in India

Spring 2007 Symposium

 

Fall 2007 Symposium

 

Sardar Sarovar Dam on the River Narmada in India

(Source: www.nadir.org)

 

Spring 2007 Symposium

Symposium on Modeling of Dams

April 11-13th, 2007

In an era where water and electricity is in increasing demand and decreasing supply, dams are posed to play a critical role in shaping the social, economic, and ecological environment of many areas across the globe.  Further, despite the increasing frequency of dam construction and removal in various areas around the world, integrative and interdisciplinary understanding of the outcomes of regulating and deregulating rivers is largely undeveloped.  Therefore, a symposium on the Modeling of Dam Effects will be held from April 11-13th to formalize the state of the science and to document how dam-human-ecosystem relationships are measured, analyzed, and interpreted. This symposium will include (1) contributed sessions on the disciplinary (economic, social, ecological, hydraulic, and institutional) approaches to observing and predicting effects of dam construction and removal and (2) focus and discussion groups on the integration of the disciplinary approaches into a larger conceptual model and framework for observing and predicting integrated effects of dams.  The emphasis of this symposium is on linking the physical, social, and ecological elements of dams into a unified model in this era of declining natural resource availability.

This first symposium on modeling of dams will be held at Skamania Lodge in Washington state, just upstream of Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. This symposium will be open to scientists, educators, and managers engaged in water science, sociology, ecology, and economics studies for presenting discussions of their research and observations of dams. Participants will be asked to contribute to a special issue publication series resulting from the symposium.

The symposium will include other related activities, including a field tour of the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, dinner viewing of "Still Life", and a dinner reception at Walking Man Brewery.

Relevant Literature

IDAM publications

Peer-reviewed Manuscripts

  1. Tullos, D.D., P.H. Brown, K.M. Kibler, D. Magee, B. Tilt, and A.T. Wolf, 2010. Perspectives on salience and magnitide of dam impacts for hydrodevelopment scenarios in China. Water Alternatives 3(2): 71-90.

  2. Brown, P.H., and Y.L. Xu, 2010. Hydropower devlopment and resettlement policy on China's Nu River. Journal of Contemporary China, 66(19): 777-797.

  3. Brown, P.H., D. Magee, and Y.L. Xu, 2010. Socioeconomic vulnerability in China's hydropower development. China Economic Review, 19(4): 614-627.

  4. Brown, P.H., et al., 2008. Modeling the costs and benefits of dam construction from a multidisciplinary perspective, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.025

Journal of Environmental Management Special Issue

  1. Tullos, D., Introduction to the special issue: Understanding and linking the biophysical, socioeconomic and geopolitical effects of dams, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), oi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.08.018

  2. Tullos, D., Assessing the influence of environmental impact assessments on science and policy: An analysis of
    the Three Gorges Project, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.031

  3. Burke, M., et al., Application of a hierarchical framework for assessing environmental impacts of dam operation:Changes in streamflow, bed mobility and recruitment of riparian trees in a western North American river, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.022

  4. Schmitz, D., et al., Using historic aerial photography and paleohydrologic techniques to assess long-term ecological response to two Montana dam removals, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.028

  5. Bohlen, C., Lynne Y. Lewis, Examining the economic impacts of hydropower dams on property values using GIS, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), oi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.026

  6. Wyrick, J.R. et al., Using hydraulic modeling to address social impacts of small dam removals in southern New Jersey, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.027

  7. Tilt, B., et al., Social impacts of large dam projects: A comparison of international case studies and implications for best practice, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.030

  8. McNally, A., et al., Hydropower and sustainability: Resilience and vulnerability in China’s powersheds, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.029

  9. McDonald, K., et al., Exporting dams: China’s hydropower industry goes global, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.023

  10. Meierotto, L., The uneven geographies of transnational advocacy: The case of the Talo Dam, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.024

  11. Brown, P.H., Modeling the costs and benefits of dam construction from a multidisciplinary perspective, Journal of Environmental Management (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2008.07.025

Conference Proceedings

  1. Brown: 'Energy Sustainability and Socioeconomic Development in the People's Republic of China,' Colby Club of Hawaii (Honolulu,Hawaii), January 2010.

  2. Brown: 'Energy Sustainability and Socioeconomic Development in the People's Republic of China,' Colby Leadership Council (New York,New York), October 2009.

  3. Brown: 'Energy, Dams, and Development in Rural China', World Affairs Council of Maine (Brunswick, Maine), April 2010.

  4. Brown, P. and Xu, Y. 2010. Dams and Development in the Nu River Valley? Chinese Economists Society, June 19-21, 2010 in Xiamen, China.

  5. Foster-Moore, E. 2010. Information Flow in Dam-Affected Communities. Chinese Economists Society, June 19-21, 2010 in Xiamen, China.

  6. Brown, P. and Xu, Q. 2010. Behavioral Responses to Nu Dam Construction in Yunnan, China. Chinese Economists Society, June 19-21, 2010 in Xiamen, China.

  7. Magee: Invited Lecture, 'Sustaining China: Challenges and Opportunities in Water, Energy, and Society,' National Youth Science Foundation (Charleston, West Virginia), June 29, 2010.

  8. Magee: Invited Lecture (via teleconference), 'China's Transboundary Rivers: Dams, Development, & Institutions,' Workshop on China Water Scarcity, Society and Adaptation, Oxford University (Oxford, UK), June 15, 2010.

  9. Tullos, D., P. Brown, D. Magee, and B. Tilt. 2010. 'Assessing and Modeling Dam Impacts in China.' Half the World 2010: Energy andEnvironment in East Asia. Research Symposium. Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York, February.

  10. Tilt, B. 2009. Dams and Development in Southwest China: Implications for Yunnan's Minority Nationalities.' American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December.

  11. Clark, M. and B. Tilt. 2009. 'Dams and Development in China: Working Toward Greater Transparency in Decision-making.' Society for Applied Anthropology, Annual Meeting, Santa Fe, New Mexico, March.

  12. Brown, P. and Xu, Y. 2010. Dams and Development in the Nu River Valley? Chinese Economists Society, June 19-21, 2010 in Xiamen, China.

  13. Foster-Moore, E. 2010. Information Flow in Dam-Affected Communities. Chinese Economists Society, June 19-21, 2010 in Xiamen, China.

  14. Brown, P. and Xu, Q. 2010. Behavioral Responses to Nu Dam Construction in Yunnan, China. Chinese Economists Society, June 19-21, 2010 in Xiamen, China.

  15. Magee: Invited Lecture (via teleconference), 'China's Transboundary Rivers: Dams, Development, & Institutions,' Workshop on China Water Scarcity, Society and Adaptation, Oxford University (Oxford, UK), June 15, 2010.

  16. Tullos, D., P. Brown, D. Magee, and B. Tilt. 2010. 'Assessing and Modeling Dam Impacts in China.' Half the World 2010: Energy and Environment in East Asia. Research Symposium. Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York, February.

  17. Tilt, B. 2009. Dams and Development in Southwest China: Implications for Yunnan's Minority Nationalities.' American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December.

  18. Clark, M. and B. Tilt. 2009. 'Dams and Development in China: Working Toward Greater Transparency in Decision-making.' Society for Applied Anthropology, Annual Meeting, Santa Fe, New Mexico, March.

IDAM Theses

  1. Clark, M. 2009. Climbing the mountain within: understanding development impacts and overcoming change in rural southwest China. MA thesis. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
  2. Lin, E . 2009. Water's role in a sense of place in the Nu River Valley. MA project. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

IDAM Related Literature

IDAM Related Literature Water depth marker at Wushan Dam

Books & Manuscripts

  1. Grumbine, R.E.,  2010.  Where The Dragon Meets the Angry River: Nature and Power in the People’s Republic of China.  Washington  D.C.: Island Press

  2. Wasimi, S.A., 2010. Planning for a Large Dam Project: The Case of Traveston Crossing Dam. Water Resources Management 24(12): 2991-3015.

  3. Kittinger, J.N., K.M. Coontz and Z.P. Yuan, 2009. Toward Holistic Evaluation and Assessment: Linking Ecosystems and Human Well-Being for the Three Gorges Dam. Ecohealth 6(4): 601-613.

  4. Tilt, Bryan, In Press. Damming China’s Angry River: Vulnerability in a Culturally and Biologically Diverse Watershed. In: Barbara Rose Johnston, ed., Water and Cultural Diversity. New York: UNESCO International Hydrological Program.

  5. Tilt, Bryan, 2010. Civil Society and the Environment in China. In: Barbara Rose Johnston, ed., Life and Death Matters: Human Rights, Environment, and Social Justice. Second Edition. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Multi-Disciplinary Effects of Dams

Multi-Disciplinary Effects of Dams

Books and Manuscripts

  1. N. H. Edward Goldsmith, Denys Trussell (eds) . 1992. The Social and Environmental Effects of Large Dams; A Review of the Literature, vol. 3, (3rd ed.). Cornwall, U.K.: Wadebridge Ecological Centre.

  2. World Bank. 1997. Clear Water, Blue Skies; China's Environment in the New Century. Washington, D.C.

  3. 2002. China Human Development Report 2002; Making Green Development a Choice. Hong Kong, China: Oxford University Press, Ltd.

  4. 2004. Poverty Profile of the People's Republic of China. Manila, Philipines: Asian Development Bank.

  5. Altinbilek, D. 2002. "The Role of Dams in Development." International Journal of Water Resources Development 18:9-24.

  6. Andrews, Wade H., Clay W. Hardin, and Gary E. Madsen. 1981. "Social Assessment Indicators in Water Resource Development." Environment and Behavior, 1981, 13, 1, Jan, 64-82.

  7. Asmal, K. 2000. Dams and development: a new framework for decision-making: the report of the World Commission on Dams: Earthscan.

  8. Bartolome, Leopoldo Jose, Chris de Wet, Harsh Mander, and Vijay Kumar Nagraj. 2000. "Displacement, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Reparation, and Development." World
    Commission on Dams, Cape Town, South Africa.

  9. Castles, S. 2003. "Towards a Sociology of Forced Migration and Social Transformation." Pp. 13-34 in Sociology, vol. 37.

  10. Cernea, Michael M. 2003. "For a new economics of resettlement: a sociological critique of the compensation principle." International Social Science Journal 55:37-45.

  11. Choy Yee, Keong. 2005. "Dam-Induced Development and Environmental and Social Sustainability: The Bakun Industrialization Strategy Revisited." Journal of Economic Issues 39:123-150.

  12. Dixon, John A., Lee M.  Talbot, and Guy J. M.  LeMoigne. 1989. "Dams and the Environment. Considerations in World Bank Projects in World Bank Technical Paper No 110."50.

  13. Duflo, Esther and Rohini Pande. 2005. Dams: SSRN.

  14. Economy, Elizabeth C. . 2004. The River Runs Black; The Environmental Challenge to China's Future. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
    Egre, Dominique and Pierre Senecal. 2003. "Social impact assessments of large dams throughout the world: lessons learned over two decades." Impact Assessment & Project Appraisal 21:215-224.

  15. Fuggle, R., WT. Smith, Hydrosult Canada Inc., and Agrodev Canada Inc. 2000. "Large Dams in Water and Energy Resource Development in The People's Republic of China (PRC)." WCD Country Review Paper, Cape Town.

  16. Garikipati, Supriya. 2005. "Consulting the Development-Displaced regarding Their Resettlement: Is There a Way?" Journal of Refugee Studies 18:340.

    Guoqing, Shi, Su Qing, and Yuan Songling. 2006. "Risk and Avoidance of Risk Among Migrants of the Xiaolangdi Dam Project." Chinese Sociology & Anthropology 38:40-70.

  17. Harada, J. and N. Yasuda. 2004. "Conservation and Improvement of the Environment in Dam Reservoirs." International Journal of Water Resources Development 20:77-96.

  18. Jackson, S. and A. Sleigh. 2000. "Resettlement for China's Three Gorges Dam: socio-economic impact and institutional tensions." Communist and Post-Communist Studies 33:223-241.

  19. Kemmler, Andreas and Daniel Spreng. 2007. "Energy indicators for tracking sustainability in developing countries." Energy Policy 35:2466-2480.

  20. Kingsford, R. T. 2000. "Ecological impacts of dams, water diversions and river management on floodplain wetlands in Australia." Austral Ecology 25:109-127.

  21. Kotchen, Matthew J., Michael R. Moore, Frank Lupi, and Edward S. Rutherford. 2006. "Environmental Constraints on Hydropower: An Ex Post Benefit-Cost Analysis of Dam Relicensing in Michigan." Land Economics 82:384-403.

  22. Larinier, M. 2000. "Dams and Fish Migration." World Commission on Dams.

  23. McAllister, D., J. Craig, N. Davidson, S. Delany, and M. Seddon. 2000. "Biodiversity Impacts of Large Dams." World Commission on Dams: Thematic Report. Available online at http://www. dams. org/thematic/tr21. htm and in PDF format fromhttp://www. damsreport. org/docs/kbase/contrib/env245. pdf (1,123 k).

  24. O'Faircheallaigh, Ciaran. 1999. "Making Social Impact Assessment Count: A Negotiation-Based Approach for Indigenous Peoples." Society & Natural Resources 12:63-80.

  25. Phadke, Roopali. 2005. "People's Science in Action: The Politics of Protest and Knowledge Brokering in India." Society and Natural Resources 18:363.
    Radcliffe, Sarah A and Nina Laurie. 2006. "Culture and development: taking culture seriously in development for Andean indigenous people." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 24:231-248.

  26. Rieker, Jeffrey D. and John W. Labadie. 2006. "GIS Visualization and Analysis of River Operations Impacts on Endangered Species Habitat." Journal of Water Resources Planning & Management 132:153-163.

  27. Simonovic, S. P., H. Fahmy, and A. El-Shorbagy. 1997. "The use of object-oriented modeling for water resources planning in Egypt." Water Resources Management 11:243-261.

  28. Thabane, Motlatsi. 2000. "Shifts from Old to New Social and Ecological Environments in the Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme; Relocating Residents of the Mohale Dam Area." Journal of Southern African Studies 26:633-654.

  29. Thomas, David H. L. and William M. Adams. 1999. "Adapting to Dams: Agrarian Change Downstream of the Tiga Dam, Northern Nigeria." World Development 27:919-935.

  30. Vanclay, F. 1999. "Social impact assessment." Handbook of Environmental Impact Assessment 1:301–326.

  31. Yuksek, Omer, Murat Ihsan Komurcu, Ibrahim Yuksel, and Kamil Kaygusuz. 2006. "The role of hydropower in meeting Turkey's electric energy demand." Energy Policy 34:3093-3103.

  32. Zwarts, Leo, Pieter van Beukering, Bakary Koné, Eddy Wymenga, and Douglas Taylor. 2006. "The Economic and Ecological Effects of Water Management Choices in the Upper Niger River: Development of Decision Support Methods." International Journal of Water Resources Development 22:135-156.

Coupled Modeling of Human-Physical Systems

Coupled Modeling of Human-Physical Systems 

Books and Manuscripts

  1. A. Veldkamp, E. F. L. (2001). "Predicting land-use change." Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 85: 1-6.

  2. Aspinall, R. and a. D. Pearson (2000). "Integrated geographical assessment of environmental condition in water catchments: Linking landscape ecology, environmental modelling and GIS" Journal of Environmental Management59(4): 299-319.

  3. Chetan Agarwal, G. M. G., J. Morgan Grove, Tom P. Evans, Charles M. Schweik (2003). A Review and Assessment of Land-Use Change Models Dynamics of Space, Time, and Human Choice. CIPEC Collaborative Report Series No. 1: 90.

  4. Elena G. Irwin , J. G. (2001). "Theory, data, methods: developing spatially explicit economic models of land use change." Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 85: 7-23.

  5. Johnston, C. A., Detenbeck, N. E., Bonde, J. P., Niemi, G. J. (1988). "Geographic Information Systems for Cumulative Impact Assessment." Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 54(11): 1609-1615.

  6. Jonathan A. Patz, P. D., Gary M. Tabor, A. Alonso Aguirre, Mary Pearl, Jon Epstein, Nathan D. Wolfe, and J. F. A. Marm Kilpatrick, David Molyneux, David J. Bradley, (2004). "Unhealthy Landscapes: Policy Recommendations on Land Use Change and Infectious Disease Emergence." Environmental Health Perspectives  112(10): 7

  7. M Haklay, E. F., Y Doytsher (1998). "The potential of a GIS-based scoping system: An israeli proposal and case study  " Environmental Impact Assessment Review.

  8. Muthusamy, N. a. D. M. R. (2003). "Environmental Impact Assessment For Urban Planning And Development Using GIS"in Martin J. Bunch, V. Madha Suresh and T. Vasantha Kumaran, eds., Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Environment and Healt h, Chennai, India, 15-17 December, 2003. Chennai: Department of Geography, University of Madras and Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. Pages 290 - 299.

  9. Schaller, J. (1990). Geographical Information System Applications in Environmental Impact Assessment. In: Geographical Information Systems for Urban and Regional Planning.

  10. Schulze, R. E. (2000). "Modelling Hydrological Responses to Land Use and Climate Change: A Southern African Perspective." Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2000 Ambio Vol. 29 No. 1, Feb. 2000 29(1): 12-22.

  11. Scott, D. R., and Saulnier, T. (1993). "ARC/Info for Large and Small EIS Applications: Interstate 93, NH; Garcia River, CA; Sakhelin Island, Russian Federation. In: Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual ESRI User Conference Redlands: ESRI inc.: 119 - 124.

  12. U.M. Mortberg, B. Balforsa, W.C. Knolb ( 2007 ). "Landscape ecological assessment: A tool for integrating biodiversity issues in strategic environmental assessment and planning " Journal of Environmental Management  82(4): 457-470.

Contacts

Contacts

2008 IDAM Team

 

Desiree Tullos (Email)

Aaron Wolf (Email)

Bryan Tilt (Email)

Darrin Magee (Email)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Database

Database

IDAM PIs and students

 

Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database

 

World Register of Dams Database

 

 

Left: IDAM PIs and students implementing a household survey in rural China.