A critical look at Social Impact Evaluation of dam Construction by Revised SIMPACTS Software - a case Study of Alborz Dam in Northern Iran

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Department of Environment and Energy, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Graduate Faculty of Environment, University of Tehran, P.O.Box14135-6135,Tehran, Iran

3 Deputy Planning and manufacturing, Tavanir company, Tehran, Iran


There is much discussion going on lately whether dam construction is economic or not in terms
of social consequences. Accordingly, various techniques and software have been released to estimate the real social cost of dam construction among which, the Software SIMPACTS has been used extensively by researchers, worldwide. The present version of SIMPACTS software only focuses on adverse effects of hydropower dams regardless of their potential positive impacts. In order to fix the existing bugs, the software was modified by programming a new cost-benefit model in which the costs of power generation, irrigation and drainage, aquatics, and potable water as well as the benefits from electricity sales, elimination of pollutants, increased cultivated area, aquaculture practice and also prevention of flood in the area, were included. The obtained results revealed that the total costs of the Alborz Dam, including the costs added to the modified model, will raise from 164 US$/Mwh calculated by the original version of the software to US$ 1049 per MWh. Besides, total revenues resulting from the above mentioned variables added up to the model reaches US$ 1994 per MWh. Therefore, the cost over benefit ratio for construction of Alborz Dam is equal to 1.5. In other words, a sum of US$ 28 million would be expected as the annual net profit of the project which has totally been overlooked in the original model.