How Dams Work

A typical dam is a wall of solid material built across a river to block the flow of the river thus storing water in the lake that will form upstream of the dam as water continues to flow from the river upstream of the dam. The main purpose of most dams is to create a permanent reservoir of water for use at a later time. The dam must be watertight (ie impermeable or impervious to water) so that water does not leak out of the dam and escape downstream. Most of the first (Earliest) Dams were built in Mesopotamia up to 7,000 years ago. As well as being watertight a dam must also be stable ie the dam wall must have sufficient strength Lot of water is stored in the lake. This water pressure exerts a force on the dam wall tending to push it downstream. The higher the dam, the greater the depth of water stored behind the dam and the greater the water pressure on the dam wall. The dam must also have sufficient strength to resist other forces to which it may be subjected from time to time eg shaking from earthquakes.

Types of Dams
1. By size
International standards define large dams as higher than 15 meters and major dams as over 150 meters in height

2. By purpose
Intended purposes include providing water for 1. Irrigation or town or city water supply, 2. Improving navigation, creating a reservoir of water to supply industrial uses, 3. Generating hydroelectric power, 4. Flood control Few dams serve all of these purposes but some multi-purpose dams serve more than one.

3. By structure
Dams can be grouped according to the type of material of which they are constructed Based on structure and material used, dams are classified as • • • Timber dams ( Not common now) CONCRETE DAMS Concrete Gravity Dams Concrete Arch Dams Concrete Buttress Dams FILL (EMBANKMENT) DAMS Earth Dams Earth and Rock Fill Dams Concrete Faced Rock Fill Dams
• • •

• • •

World's Highest Dams, 2000 Source: US Committee on Large Dams of the Intl. Commission on Large Dams Height (m) above lowest formation 335 300 285 272 262 261 261 260 250 243 243 242 240 237 236 234 233 230 226 221

Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Rogun Nurek Grand Dixence Inguri Vajont Manuel M. Torres Tehri Alvaro Obregon Mauvoisin Alberto Lleraso Mica Sayano-Shushensk Ertan La Esmeralda Kishau El Cajon Chirkei Oroville Bhakra Hoover

Country Tajikistan Tajikistan Switzerland Georgia Italy Mexico India Mexico Switzerland Colombia Cannada Russia China Colombia India Honduras Russia U.S. India U.S.

An arch dam is a thin, curved concrete or masonry dam structure which is built to curve upstream so that the force of the water against it squeezes the arch, compressing and strengthening the structure and pushing it into the ground. An arch dam is a good dam type for a narrow gorge in a mountainous area with steep walls of rock

Direction of Flow

Concre te Ar ch Dam

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