'The economic impacts of large dams: a comparative analysis of the Nile and Colorado Rivers' with Ken Strzepek, Kevin Wheeler & Jim Hall

07 June 2022

Portrait of Dr Kevin Wheeler

with Dr Kevin Wheeler
Oxford Martin Fellow

Kevin Wheeler DPhil, P.E. is a Senior Research Fellow at the Environmental Change Institute, Professional Engineer, and Principal of Water Balance Consulting. His research and professional experience focuses upon the shared management of transbounda...

Portrait of Professor Jim Hall

with Professor Jim Hall
Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks

Professor Jim Hall FREng is Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks in the School of Geography and the Environment, Lead Researcher on the Oxford Martin Programme on Transboundary Resource Management, a Senior Research Fellow in the Department o...

The Colorado River and the Nile River are both undergoing dramatic transformations.

Throughout the last century and continuing today, major infrastructure developments have played a pivotal role in shaping the regional economies, livelihoods and environmental conditions of these two critical transboundary river systems. Our growing dependencies on these finite renewable resources are driven by population growth and economic expansion, but are being increasingly challenged by water scarcity that is partly driven by climate change.

In this talk Professor Kenneth Strzepek, Dr Kevin Wheeler & Professor Jim Hall (Chair) will discuss the following two parts:

  • A comparison of the hydrology, infrastructure, institutions, and hydro-politics of these two transboundary river basins. The precarious role of the Glen Canyon and Hoover dams on the management of the Colorado River for beneficial use in the Southwest USA and Northern Mexico will be presented. This will be contrasted with the historic role of the High Aswan Dam on water management in Egypt and extensive plans for major water infrastructure expansion across the Upper Nile Basin;
  • An analysis of the direct economic benefits and costs of the water resource development in the two basins will be presented as well as environmental and social impacts to estimate the classic benefit-cost ratio. Finally, an economy-wide assessment of the impacts of the major water infrastructure development in the Colorado and Nile basins on local, national and regional economic growth will be presented.