Life Cycle Assessment of Dams
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Although methods for life-cycle assessment are commonly used to evaluate lifetime environmental impacts and financial costs of buildings and roadways, their application to other civil infrastructure, including dams, is not yet widespread.

Therefore, owners of dams are generally unaware of tools available to perform asset life cycle planning and to assess the sustainability of their portfolio. The lack of tools that can be used for dams makes it difficult for dam owners to identify and schedule interventions that optimize the environmental, social, and financial outcomes for their assets. Existing frameworks for environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) could be adapted for dams. This paper will present multiple examples that demonstrate how existing life cycle tools can be implemented to evaluate the life cycle impacts and costs of dams over their service life. For new structures, these tools can be employed to inform decisions related to planning, design, and construction. For existing dams, LCA and LCCA can provide portfolio, project, or component level guidance to help dam owners prioritize investment decisions and dam safety activities. In addition, these life cycle methods can be integrated into a risk-informed decision-making framework to identify risk reduction measures that reduce risk below acceptable levels while also minimizing life-cycle impacts and costs. If implemented, these tools would identify potential environmental impact reductions and cost savings opportunities for dam owners, enabling them to efficiently leverage limited resources in a way that maximizes the long-term sustainability of their assets.

Publication Summary

  • Geosyntec Authors: Alena Raymond, Lucas de Melo, Robert Bachus, Glenn Rix
  • All Authors: Alena Raymond, Lucas de Melo, Robert Bachus, Glenn Rix
  • Title: United States Society on Dams (USSD) 2022 Annual Conference
  • Event or Publication: Event
  • Practice Areas: Dams; Dam Safety
  • Citation: United States Society on Dams (USSD) 2022 Annual Conference and Exhibition at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego, California on April 11 through 14, 2022.
  • Date: Tuesday, April 12 at 1:30 p.m. PDT
  • Location: San Diego, California
  • Publication Type: Platform Presentation