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A dam is an artificial obstruction constructed across a stream or river for impounding water on the side of it.

The term dam refers to both the obstruction and the water stored. Reservoir refers to the basin where water is stored.

Purpose of dam

>To store and control the water for irrigation.

>To store and divert the water for domestic uses.

>To supply water for industrial uses.

>To develop hydroelectric power plant to produce electricity.

>To increase water depths for navigation.

>To increase storage space for flood control.

>To preserve and cultivate the useful aquatic life.

Selection of site for dam

The dam is constructed at the place where the width of the river is minimum. The river site flanked on either side by hillocks would be ideal. Impervious stratum should be available at a reasonable depth for resting the dam foundation. It is desirable to construct the dam on high ground compared to the river basin. The reservoir basin should be reasonably water tight; the stores water should not escape out through its side walls and bed. The material required for dam construction should be available easily and cheaply. The site should be near highway and railway. This will facilitate easy transportation of men and materials. The site should be suitable for locating spillways to sufficient size and number. The site should e allowed for easy diversion of the river, during dam construction. The site should be disturbed much by natural environment.

Classification of dams

(a) Based on the structural behavior

(i) Gravity dam

(ii) Arch dam

(iii) Buttress dam

(b) Based on materials

1) Rigid dam

(i)Timber dam

(ii) R.C.C dam

(iii) Steel dam

(iv) Composite dam

2) Non-Rigid dam

(i) Earth dam

(ii) Rock fill dam

(c) Based on hydraulic design

(i) Non-over flow dam

(ii) Over flow dam

(d) Based on storage capacity

(i) Large dam

(ii) Small dam

(e) Based on the height

(i) High dam

(ii) Low dam

(f) Based on the purpose

(i) Storage dam

(ii) Detention dam

(iii) Diversion dam

Dam terminology

(a) Catchment area

A reservoir gets water mainly from its catchment area. It is defined as that area which always contributes the surplus water present over it to the natural drainage grid present in the area.

(b) Full reservoir level (F.R.L)

The level up to which the water is stored in a reservoir is called full reservoir level.

Maximum water level (M.W.L)

During the floods the water may be allowed to rise above the F.R.L to a certain maximum level called maximum water level (or) high flood level. (H.F.L)

(d) Crest

The top surface of the dam is called the crest of the dam. The crest may be used as roadway.

(e) Free Board

The level difference between the top of the bottom (crest) and the maximum water level is called free board.

(f) Drainage gallery

It is an opening provided long the length of the dam, above river bed, for the purpose of drainage the water seeping through the foundation bed under pressure.

(g) Toe

The downstream ends at the base of the dam.

(h) Heel

The upstream end at the base of the dam

(i) Ayacut

It is defined as the area to be irrigated by dam.

(j) Upstream

The stretch of the stream above the dam site is called the upstream. Water is retained on the upstream side of the dam only.

(k) Down stream he stream of the stream below the dam site is called stream. The surplus water is discharged to the downstream only.