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Dams, and their associated reservoirs, provide the ability to store water for later use, provide hydropower and provide some level of protection from extreme precipitation events. If designed correctly, dams allow water to be available at times when in its absence it would not be available, therefore increasing exploitable renewable water resources. This is particularly important for countries in which the available water during the wet and dry seasons varies significantly. Dams may also allow for the excess runoff that would normally flow to the ocean without being used to become available for use. However, dams and reservoirs, especially large ones, also can have negative impacts on human societies, requiring resettlement and leading to social disruption. Dams also change the river network and flow regulation is considered one of the main negative ecological consequences of dams and reservoirs. Also, stored water may evaporate at a greater rate than free-flowing water. In short, dams have pros and cons, such that their design characteristics need to be evaluated carefully.
AQUASTAT gathers detailed information about dams in each country during country update processes. AQUASTAT’s data was an important input into the Global Reservoirs and Dams (GRanD) database, especially for African dams. The work on this database was coordinated by the Global Water System Project, in partnership with several organizations. An article has been published in 2011 in the Journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
Total dam capacities are introduced into the AQUASTAT main country database, and additional details are provided through this page.
This interactive visualization has been prepared to provide a sense of context to the global distribution of dams and the variability in their capacities. Please click on the image to the left using the Chrome, Firefox 4 or Webkit Nightly web browsers. The cross-browser limitation is explained by the fact that this visualization was prepared using Chrome experiments.
AQUASTAT has information on over 14 000 dams worldwide, but this visualization of course can only include dams that have values for 'latitude', 'longitude' and 'capacity', which are around 7 700. However, all dams are listed in the files below.
|Region||Geo-referenced dams database||Notes and References||Dams in GeoNetwork||Dams in Google Earth||Analysis|
|Middle East (West Asia)||- -|
|Central Asia||- -|
|Southern and Eastern Asia||- -|
|Europe||- -||- -||- -|
|Oceania||- -||- -||- -|
|Northern America||- -||- -||- -|
|Central America and Caribbean||- -||- -|
|Southern America||- -||- -|
- - Work in progress
Or download files with information on dams for any country using the dropdowns below:
|Geo-referenced dams databases: The dam databases are provided as Excel files. Each file has two sheets: the first sheet contains the database and the second sheet contains the legend. These databases, in their present format, are neither complete nor can be considered error-free. They correspond to the best available information at the time of the study.|
|Notes and References: Explanatory document providing specific information about the refrerences used, and brief notes on the more complicated dams contained in the excel spreadsheet.|
|Dams in GeoNetwork: GeoNetwork is an opensource depository that allows users to share geographically referenced thematic information between different organizations.|
|Dams in Google Earth: A google .kml file, suitable for viewing basins, rivers and dams in Google Earth. Click on each point for information about each dam. *|
|Analysis: A document in which the importance of dams is reflected upon. *|
|* Due to the complexity involved, published reports and maps are not updated frequently and may not reflect updates.|
Your access to AQUASTAT and use of any of its information or data is subject to the terms and conditions laid down in the User Agreement.
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