American Rivers Dam Removal Database Now Available to Public

November 14, 2017

November 14, 2017

Contact: Amy Kober, 503-708-1145 or Jessie Thomas-Blate, 609-658-4769

View full database of dam removals

(Washington) – Information on 1,403 dams that were removed from rivers in the United States over the past century is now available to the public. American Rivers collected the information and has published the database for public benefit, to encourage additional research and support for river restoration.

“Removing outdated dams can improve public safety, water quality and fish and wildlife populations, and increase opportunities for local business and recreation,” said Jessie Thomas-Blate, Associate Director of River Restoration for American Rivers. “We hope that by making this century of dam removal information publicly available, we will add to the positive momentum for dam removal and river restoration nationwide.”

In the last century, the U.S. led the world in dam building for hydropower, irrigation, flood control and water storage. While dams can provide benefits, they also cause considerable harm to rivers. Dams have depleted fisheries, degraded river ecosystems, and reduced recreational opportunities on nearly all of our nation’s rivers. Today, many dams are old, unsafe or no longer serving their intended purposes. The U.S. now leads the world in dam removal and river restoration.

The American Rivers dam removal database includes all dam removals in the United States from 1916-2016. To be included in the database, a significant portion of the dam must have been removed for the full height of the dam, such that ecological function, natural river flow and fish passage can be restored at the site. This database is revised and updated annually with information provided by contributors across the country.

Facts from the data collection include:

  • Last year, in 2016, 72 dams were removed across 21 states
  • Pennsylvania leads the nation with 311 dam removals since 1916
  • At 210 feet, Glines Canyon Dam on Washington’s Elwha River was the tallest dam ever removed in the U.S.
  • American Rivers displays dam removal data on an interactive map that includes all known dam removals in the United States for which location information is available. Visit

Information from the database may be used by anyone provided the following citation is included:

Rivers, American (2017): American Rivers Dam Removal Database. figshare.
Retrieved: TIME, DATE.


American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 275,000 members, supporters and volunteers.

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