The removal of dams and weirs has been happening for decades. Since the 90’s a few countries have increased this tendency. USA has already removed at least 1,300 dams. What very few people know is that in Europe there have been over 3,500 barriers demolished already.
In some European countries, like France, Sweden, Spain, Finland and UK dams are mainly being removed due to existing legislation, safety and security, the need to reach a good ecological status of their rivers for the Water Frame Directive and/or economical reasons. However, the lack of awareness, knowledge, support by decision makers and funding for dam removal are generally bottlenecks and most of the times is the cause of many dam removal failures. In addition, the Renewable Energy Directive requires the EU countries to fulfil at least 20% of its total energy needs with renewables by 2020, and amongst these renewables is hydropower. All this makes dam removal projects tremendously difficult to those who are willing to start removing old and useless dams, and automatically makes dam removal an uncomfortable subject to bring up for politicians.
Europe requires a shift towards adaptive management of stream barriers, one that maximizes benefits and minimizes impacts, one that keeps efficient dams and removes obsolete and abandoned dams. The goals of Dam Removal Europe (www.damremoval.eu) are to improve citizens’ awareness about removing dams and refute myths, create a reference community of professionals, experts and starters, who generates and shares knowledge about dam removal and putting dam removal on the agenda of policy makers, directors and managers.