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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

There are over 75,000 large dams on rivers in the United States alone. The goal of this project is to measure the ecological ‘footprint’ of these dams in watersheds across the lower 48 states in the U.S. We will define this footprint in terms of the effect dams have had on: water quantity and quality the number of native and non-native species in rivers the salinity of soils in productive agricultural areas the demand for irrigated water by the 100 largest cities in the U.S. Additionally, we will use information from global climate change models and other models that describe how water moves across landscapes to develop sustainable solutions to water shortages that consider water for cities, farms and biodiversity conservation. The research will prepare us for a final workshop in which noted popular press authors and policy makers are invited to write an opinion piece for The New York Times. This article will comment on the state of U.S. freshwater infrastructure (based on our scientific work), and propose a policy platform for freshwater sustainability in the U.S.

Principal Investigator(s)

John L. Sabo, Laura C. Bowling, Gerrit H. Schoups

Project Dates

Start: October 5, 2009

End: April 11, 2013



Sankur Arumugam
North Carolina State University
Laura C. Bowling
Purdue University
Noah Diffenbaugh
Stanford University
Caitlin Dyckman
Clemson University
William L. Graf
University of South Carolina
Michael Hanemann
Arizona State University
John S. Kominoski
University of Georgia
Kenneth E. Kunkel
Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)
Robert Lang
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Brian Richter
The Nature Conservancy
Jennifer Roath
Purdue University
John L. Sabo
Arizona State University
Gerrit H. Schoups
Delft University of Technology
Tushar Sinha
North Carolina State University
Stuart Sweeney
University of California, Santa Barbara
Laura O. Taylor
North Carolina State University
Wesley W. Wallender
University of California, Davis


  1. Journal Article / 2010

    Sedimentation and sustainability of western American reservoirs

  2. Journal Article / 2010

    Climate Change and Water in Southwestern North America Special Feature: Reclaiming freshwater sustainability in the Cadillac Desert

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