1st Edition

ICOLD Dam Decommissioning - Guidelines

Edited By CIGB ICOLD Copyright 2019

    Dam decommissioning or dam removal has been increasingly common since the past decade. The reason for considering dam removal may have to do with the safety of dams, high repair costs, high operating and maintenance costs, or effects on fish passage and water quality. However, the decision to remove a dam must be based on careful evaluation of the alternatives to address the specific problem at each dam.

    The ICOLD Committee for decommissioning dams was established in 2005 to develop information that can be used by ICOLD members to respond to questions about the dismantling of dams and to provide a forum for the exchange of information . This ICOLD Bulletin is not intended as a design guide, but as a guide to the decision making process, consultation and regulatory approvals, design and construction issues, sediment management and performance monitoring.

    The primary aim of these Dam decommissioning guidelines is to provide dam owners, dam engineers and other professionals with the information needed to guide decision making when considering dam dismantling as a project alternative. They are not meant to be used as a design guide, but as a guide to highlighting the points of interest. The guidelines in this ICOLD Bulletin apply only to flood defense structures and not to fall dams.

    1 Foreword

    2 Introduction

    3 Decommissioning decision making process

    4 Consultation and regulatory approvals

    5 Design and construction issues

    6 Sediment management

    7 Performance monitoring

    8 Selected case studies



    the Commission Internationale des Grands Barrages (CIGB) / International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) is a non-governmental International Organization which provides a forum for the exchange of knowledge and experience in dam engineering.

    The Organization leads the profession in ensuring that dams are built safely, efficiently, economically, and without detrimental effects on the environment. Its original aim was to encourage advances in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of large dams and their associated civil works, by collecting and disseminating relevant information and by studying related technical questions.

    Since the late sixties, focus was put on subjects of current concern such as dam safety, monitoring of performance, reanalysis of older dams and spillways, effects of ageing and environmental impact. More recently, new subjects include cost studies at the planning and construction stages, harnessing international rivers, information for the public at large, and financing.