Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Scott Lowe


This case study will focus on the economic costs associated with the mandates set forth in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970. This legislation requires an environmental impact assessment for all new infrastructure projects. The Arrowrock Dam, which was built in 1915 before the NEPA regulations, was an engineering marvel of its time. In 2011 the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) acknowledged that the structure was aging, and published a preliminary evaluation of the dam and recommendations for its future. Since its construction, the Arrowrock dam has undergone various safety and efficiency upgrades. The Corps’ recommendations in their preliminary report were to either raise the height of the dam or build an entirely new facility. The question asked in this study is if the inclusion of environmental costs into the cost benefit analysis of modifications to the Arrowrock dam will affect its outcome. Analyses of comparable federal dams built with these regulations in place have been used to infer the weight of their environmental impact assessments. This case study aims to highlight how the trends in environmental assessments may affect the final decisions made at the Arrowrock dam.