10 Differences Between dam and reservoir

Difference between Dam and Reservoir

Difference between Dam and Reservoir

An understanding of dams and reservoirs is crucial to grasp the differences between the two. This article aims to provide comprehensive information about dams and reservoirs, including their definitions, examples, uses, and a clear comparison of their distinctions.

What is a Dam?

A dam is a structure built across a river or a stream to obstruct the flow of water and create a reservoir on one side. Dams are typically made of concrete, masonry, or earth-filled materials, providing a controlled release of water downstream.

Examples of Dams:

  • Hoover Dam – Colorado River, United States
  • Three Gorges Dam – Yangtze River, China
  • Itaipu Dam – Paraná River, Brazil/Paraguay border

Uses of Dams:

  • Hydropower generation
  • Water supply for irrigation
  • Flood control
  • Recreation activities (e.g., boating, fishing)
  • Navigation

What is a Reservoir?

A reservoir is an artificial or natural water body created by blocking a river’s flow with the help of a dam. It stores a large quantity of water that can be used for various purposes, such as water supply or power generation.

Examples of Reservoirs:

  • Lake Mead – Created by the Hoover Dam
  • Glen Canyon Reservoir – Created by the Glen Canyon Dam
  • Lake Kariba – Created by the Kariba Dam

Uses of Reservoirs:

  • Water supply for domestic, industrial, and agricultural needs
  • Hydroelectric power generation
  • Flood control
  • Recreation activities (e.g., swimming, camping)
  • Wildlife habitat

Differences between Dams and Reservoirs:

Difference Area Dam Reservoir
Definition A structure built to obstruct the flow of water An artificial or natural water body created by blocking a river’s flow
Construction Material Concrete, masonry, or earth-filled materials N/A (Part of the dam structure)
Purpose Controlled release of water downstream, hydropower generation, flood control, etc. Storage of a large quantity of water, water supply, power generation, etc.
Location Usually across a river or stream Made by blocking river flow with a dam
Primary Use Create a barrier for water flow Store and supply water
Formation Man-made Artificial or natural (created due to dam construction)
Water Volume Usually lesser compared to the reservoir Large amount of water
Associated Activities Fishing, boating, navigation Swimming, camping, wildlife habitat
Impact on the Environment Can disrupt natural river ecosystems Alters the original water flow pattern
Similarity N/A A reservoir is associated with a dam


In conclusion, dams and reservoirs serve different purposes, with dams being the structures and reservoirs being the resulting water bodies. While dams aim to control water flow, reservoirs are essential for water storage and supply. Understanding these differences helps in comprehending their significance and the impact they have on various aspects of human activities and environment.

People Also Ask:

  1. What is the purpose of a dam?
  2. Dams serve various purposes such as water storage, hydropower generation, flood control, and navigation.

  3. How do reservoirs form?
  4. Reservoirs are formed by blocking the flow of a river using a dam, which creates an artificial or natural water body.

  5. Do reservoirs affect the environment?
  6. Yes, reservoirs can impact the environment by altering natural water flow, affecting ecosystems and habitats.

  7. Can dams be used for recreational activities?
  8. Yes, dams and reservoirs created by them offer recreational opportunities like boating, fishing, swimming, and camping.

  9. What are the main benefits of reservoirs?
  10. Reservoirs provide benefits such as storing water for domestic, industrial, and agricultural needs, generating hydroelectric power, and facilitating irrigation.

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