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.
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