Good and Bad Dams

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Latin America and Caribbean Region
Sustainable Development Working Paper 16

Good Dams and Bad Dams:
Environmental Criteria for Site Selection
of Hydroelectric Projects
November 2003

George Ledec
Juan David Quintero
The World Bank
Latin America and Caribbean Region
Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Department (LCSES)

Latin America and the Caribbean Region

Sustainable Development Working Paper No. 16

Good Dams and Bad Dams:
Environmental Criteria for Site
Selection of Hydroelectric Projects

November 2003
George Ledec
Juan David Quintero

The World Bank
Latin America and the Caribbean Region
Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Sector Management Unit

George Ledec has worked with the World Bank since 1982, and is presently Lead Ecologist for the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Unit (LCSES) of the World Bank’s Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office. He specializes in the environmental assessment of development projects, with particular focus on biodiversity and related conservation concerns. He has worked extensively with the environmental aspects of dams, roads, oil and gas, forest management, and protected areas, and is one of the main authors of the World Bank’s Natural Habitats Policy. Dr. Ledec earned a Ph.D. in Wildland Resource Science from the University of California-Berkeley, a Masters in Public Affairs from Princeton University, and a Bachelors in Biology and Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College. Juan David Quintero joined the World Bank in 1993 and is presently Lead Environmental Specialist for LCSES and Coordinator of the Bank’s Latin America and Caribbean Quality Assurance Team, which monitors compliance with environmental and social safeguard policies. He specializes in environmental assessment of infrastructure projects, mainly roads, hydropower, oil and gas, urban transport, and water supply and sanitation. He has received the Regional Award from the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) for promoting improvements in environmental impact assessments throughout Latin America. He is a civil engineer with postgraduate degrees in Environmental and Sanitary Engineering.

The findings, interpretations, and conclusions in this document are those of the authors, and should not be attributed in any manner to the World Bank, its affiliated organizations, members of its Board of Executive Directors, or the countries they represent.

This working paper series is produced by the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Sector Management Unit of the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office. Additional copies may be obtained from the authors or from LCSES Program Assistant Peter Brandriss (pbrandriss@worldbank.org, or tel. 1-202-473-9379).

Cover photos (clockwise from upper left):
Loksop Dam, South Africa
Guavio Dam, Colombia
Yacyreta Dam, Argentina/Paraguay
All photos by George Ledec

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Contents
Acknowledgments ..........................................................................................................................iv Foreword .........................................................................................................................................v Executive Summary..................................................................................................................... vii Introduction ....................................................................................................................................1 Adverse Environmental Impacts of Hydropower Development ................................................3 Key Indicators of Likely Environmental Impacts .......................................................................9 Overview of Environmentally Good and Bad Hydroelectric Dam Sites .................................13 Conclusions...
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