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News DER launches web-based Dam Removal Restoration Potential Model Tool

  • Division of Ecological Restoration
DER’s new Restoration Potential Model. Each circle represents a dam in Massachusetts – size and color indicates a dam’s ecological benefit percentile score.

DER is pleased to announce the release of a new web-based tool – the Dam Removal Restoration Potential Model, or RPM. The RPM displays easily accessible information that can be used to compare, evaluate, and prioritize the relative ecological benefit of removing any known dam in the Commonwealth.

Dam removal is most ecologically beneficial when a dam is the primary stressor on the river. When a river is also affected by other stressors, such as poor water quality, there may be less ecological benefit realized from dam removal per se (if other stressors are left unaddressed). By evaluating a variety of indicators– such as where a dam is located within a watershed and the ecological integrity of the area - the Restoration Potential Model helps users identify dams that are the primary stressor on a river and have other characteristics that indicate high ecological benefits from dam removal.

Using a simple scoring system, the RPM helps users prioritize dams at the statewide scale and within each of the Commonwealth’s major watersheds. The RPM also allows users to gather basic environmental data about each dam. For example, the tool shows the number of miles of connected mainstem and tributary habitat that may be reconnected by removal of any known dam. The Tool includes information for nearly 3,000 dams across the state.

Questions regarding the tool can be directed to DER’s Project Manager, Kristopher Houle, at

Division of Ecological Restoration 

DER restores and protects rivers, wetlands, and watersheds in Massachusetts for the benefit of people and the environment.


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