Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Differences Between Dam and Reservoir

Dams and reservoirs are humanmade features that are constructed to aid people with water supply, which is used for various purposes. Several dams and lakes around the world have significantly impacted the lives of people living around such physical features. However, it is important to highlight that many people cannot tell the difference between a dam and a reservoir. This script is focused on demonstrating the significant differences between dams and reservoirs.


  • What is a Dam?

    Differences Between Dam and Reservoir

A dam refers to the structural barrier that is constructed across a river or a valley with the aim of ensuring that water is prevented from flowing. This causes water to accumulate behind the wall after which it is allowed to overflow after reaching a certain height of the dam. Some of the major dams in the world, which have acted as barriers to various rivers and valleys around the globe, include Daniel Johnson Dam in Canada, Robert-Bourassa Dam in Canada, Guri Dam in Venezuela, Bratsk Dam in Russia, and Kariba Dam in Zimbabwe among others.



  • What is a Reservoir?


    Differences Between Dam and Reservoir-1

A reservoir is the large water body that forms behind a wall constructed across a river or a large valley. In some instances, the reservoir accumulates large amounts to form a human-made lake. Some of the major reservoirs in the world include Bratsk Reservoir behind Bratsk Dam in Russia, Lake Volta behind Akosombo Dam, and Lake Guri behind Guri Dam.



Differences Between Dam and Reservoir

  1. Physical Appearance of Dam and Reservoir

One of the main differences between a dam and a reservoir is their physical difference, which is specifically attached to their definition. A dam appears as a wall that is constructed across the river or valley, which ensures that water forms behind the wall constructed. It is therefore clear that a dam is mainly constructed by use of concrete mixed with water and reinforced with steel to prevent water from passing while at the same time allowing water to overflow after water accumulates up to a certain height. On the other hand, the reservoir is the water that accumulates behind the constructed dam, which sometimes grows to be some of the largest lakes in the world.

  1. Ecological Impacts in Dam and Reservoir

The other difference between a dam and a reservoir is the impacts that they have on the ecological of the regions where they are constructed. The ecological impacts caused when a dam and a reservoir are constructed within a certain region are not welcomed and mostly face rejection from the locals and other environmental conservation bodies. Construction of a dam interferes with the life of water creatures like fish, which are obstructed, and their migration from one place to another through the river is hindered. Moreover, preventing the flow of water changes oxygen levels hence making the creatures living in water to experience hostile conditions. On the other hand, the development of a reservoir leads to displacement of people moving them from one place to another which distracts the social order and cultural practices among people.

  1. Uses of Dams and Reservoirs

The other prevailing difference between dams and reservoirs is their uses. Dams are used to create sites for hydroelectric generation hence supplying people in the surrounding and other industries reliable electric power hence improving the living standards among people. On the other hand, reservoirs those from behind the constructed dams are vital because they provide enough water for consumption while the excess water can be used for agricultural purposes. It is important to highlight that majority of the dams and reservoirs constructed around the world have been providing sufficient electricity and water for consumption and agricultural purposes for people living in the cities. It is therefore important to highlight that, despite both dams and reservoirs being controversial projects, they have significant impacts on the economic conditions of a region.

  1. Transport and Tourist Attraction

In addition, there is a difference in the role of a dam and a reservoir within the regions where they are situated. Many people have been using dams because they facilitate the movement of people from one region to another. It is worth noting that reservoirs accumulate large volumes of water with large depth that can hold cruise ship and cargo ships. These water bodies offer efficient means of transport to the people in that region hence reducing road congestion and environmental pollution. On the other hand, dams are tourist attraction sites. Many people have travelled to different countries to witness the massive dams constructed by human beings, which makes them be surprised, by the power and capacity of human beings when it comes to construction. Tourism is an excellent source of income because it provides foreign currency while at the same time offering employment opportunities to the locals.

Table Showing Differences Between Dam and Reservoir

  Dam Reservoir
Physical Appearance Wall constructed across a river or valley Water accumulating behind the dam
Ecological Impacts Prevents migration of fish Causes Displacement of people
Uses of Dams and Reservoirs


Electricity generation Supply of water for consumption and agriculture
Tourist attraction and transport It is a tourist attraction site Facilitates Water Transportation

Summary of Dam and Reservoir

  • Dams and reservoirs are impressive features that are constructed with the aim of improving the prevailing circumstances in a certain region.
  • Many regions around the world lack essential water for human and animal consumption. Besides, other areas lack water for agricultural production due to drought and general lack of rain. Dams and reservoirs are constructed in such areas to provide water for human and animal consumption and agricultural production.
  • Production of hydroelectric power in the dams constructed is an important aspect because it helps in the general growth of a particular region. Industries are supplied with a sufficient and cheap supply of electricity for production purposes.
  • However, construction of dams and reservoirs have their disadvantages because they disturb aquatic environment making it hard for marine creatures while at the same time leading to the displacement of a large number of people.

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  1. Nice information,you describe in much simple way, its easy to understand like fresher..

  2. It is worthy information which i didn’t know upto now.

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References :

[0]Berga, Luis, et al., eds. Dams and Reservoirs, Societies and Environment in the 21st Century, Two Volume Set: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Dams in the Societies of the 21st Century, 22nd International Congress on Large Dams (ICOLD), Barcelona, Spain, 18 June 2006. CRC Press, 2006.

[1]Lehner, Bernhard, et al. "High‐resolution mapping of the world's reservoirs and dams for sustainable river‐flow management." Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9.9 (2011): 494-502.

[2]Richter, Brian, and Gregory Thomas. "Restoring environmental flows by modifying dam operations." Ecology and Society 12.1 (2007).

[3]"Image Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerr_Dam"

[4]"Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Greenfield_Reservoir.JPG"

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