Dam vs Reservoir: Difference and Comparison

There are various natural and artificial phenomena that make up the world we live in and the surroundings that surround us. Some of them are so significant that we must examine and manage them to the best of our ability in order to improve sustainability and reduce waste. 

Water is one of these phenomena. Certain artificial devices are also employed to regulate the sustainability of the water around us. Dams and reservoirs are two elements that are used to control the flow of water and better utilize it.

While they both execute nearly identical tasks, there is a significant difference between them.  

Key Takeaways

  1. Dams are structures built across a river to control water flow, while reservoirs are artificial lakes created by damming a river.
  2. Dams serve multiple purposes, such as flood control, hydroelectric power generation, and irrigation.
  3. Reservoirs provide water storage for various uses, including drinking water, agriculture, and recreational activities.

Dam vs Reservoir 

A dam is a physical structure built across a stream or river that retains water. The water is accumulated in the dam, and after reaching a certain height, it is allowed to overflow and used for irrigation, hydropower, flood mitigation, and town water supply. A reservoir is a water body created by a dam.

Dam vs Reservoir

A Dam is an artificial barrier that is used to restrict the flow of running water so as to either make use of that accumulated water or to prevent it from flowing for whatever reasons. It looks like a wall made of concrete and other construction-based materials.  

On the other side, Reservoir is something that comes into existence in the very first place due to the presence of a Dam. It is an artificial water body that generates from the water that has been retained by a Dam.

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At some places, these reservoirs appear as larger lakes and other water bodies due to the huge amount of water stored in them. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonDam Reservoir 
Meaning  An artificial wall or hindrance created for restraining water from flowing.  A water body whose creation follows the formation of a Dam. 
Made of  Concrete, steel, and other things. Water which has been accumulated by a Dam.  
Uses  Caters the need for electricity in many industries and cities connected to the location.  Caters the need of not only the electricity but agriculture too.  
Appearance  Looks like a giant artificial wall.  Looks like a water body, mostly a lake or a river.  
Impact on Nature The creation of a Dam usually interferes with the natural lifecycle of organisms having their home in the water.  A Reservoir becomes the reason for displacing residents from that area in order to avoid any loss towards persons or property.  
Interrelation  Creation of Dam results in the creation of a Reservoir. The reservoir is created due to the creation of a Dam in the first place.  

What is Dam? 

Water flows at a different pace in many areas, and in some places, it flows more than it is needed. To cope with this situation, Dams are created. These are the artificial walls or barriers to restrict the water from flowing in a particular direction.

A Dam is created of concrete, steel, and many other materials.  

A Dam is built at a higher altitude than the flow of the water could ever reach. At a certain point, walls are let down when there is a need for that water to get flowing. This results in the control and management of the flow of water by us humans. 

There exists a number of reasons which Dams are created all over the world despite them being against the natural flow of nature. The most common reason is the generation of electricity to cater to the needs of various industries and nearby residential areas.

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The water that is accumulated is released at a very high speed in order to generate kinetic energy. 

Apart from this, Dams are also built to aid in agricultural needs, prevent the water from overflowing in residential areas, and provide water for many industries.  


What is Reservoir? 

A reservoir is nothing but an artificial water body that takes birth due to the creation of a Dam. Whenever a Dam is built, it restricts the flow of water. That restricted water gets piled up behind that Dam and takes the form of an artificial water body.

That particular water body is what we call a Reservoir.  

A Reservoir becomes the reason for displacing residents from that area in order to avoid any loss of persons or property. Generally, the water gathered in a Reservoir is clean at its initial stage, but gradually it becomes dirty due to being still.

These reservoirs provide water for many purposes, such as

  • Generation of electricity¬†
  • Transportation in water¬†
  • Boating¬†
  • Fishing¬†
  • Irrigation in agricultural lands¬†

Main Differences Between Dam and Reservoir 

  1. A Dam is an obstruction created by us humans in order to restrain the course of water in many areas, while a Reservoir amounts to the water that is stored due to the presence of a Dam. 
  2. A Dam is made of many materials used in construction all over the world. However, a Reservoir exists due to the accumulation of water.  
  3. A Dam has the look of a barrier or wall, while a Reservoir looks like an artificial water body. 
  4. A Dam is mainly used to store water in a single place and make use of that water afterward. On the other hand, a Reservoir is used for many purposes, such as generating electricity, water transportation, etc.  
  5. A Dam is a way of creating a Reservoir, while a Reservoir is the end result of the creation of a Dam. 
Difference Between Dam and Reservoir
  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11356-018-1867-8  
  2. https://bioone.org/journals/mountain-research-and-development/volume-38/issue-3/MRD-JOURNAL-D-16-00124.1/Local-Residents-Perceptions-of-a-Dam-and-Reservoir-Project-in/10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-16-00124.1.full  

Last Updated : 19 July, 2023

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24 thoughts on ‚ÄúDam vs Reservoir: Difference and Comparison‚ÄĚ

  1. The article effectively explains the difference between dams and reservoirs, and the practical applications of each.


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