Dams are an integral part of modern society. They provide power to millions, create new land for development, and help store water in reservoirs. In this week’s blog, we take a look at the seven most strange and beautiful dams around the world.
7) Hoover Dam – Nevada/Arizona, United States
This dam was commissioned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 and sits on the border between Nevada and Arizona. A group of six companies (dubbed ‘Six Companies’) were given the task of building the largest concrete structure in the world at the time. The project employed thousands of workers during the great depression, giving many people in the region a steady job over the course of construction. A lack of safety procedures and an abundance of summer heat, however, caused over 100 workers to perish during the five years it took to complete the dam.
6) Three Gorges Dam – Hubei, China
The original plans for the Three Gorges Dam began as early as 1932, but construction on the project wasn’t begun until 1994. After completion in 2012, the Three Gorges Dam took the title of both the world’s largest power station and the world’s largest operating hydroelectric facility in terms of annual energy generation. The dam itself is highly controversial, as its construction displaced over one million people and flooded numerous archaeological and cultural sites.
5) The Karun-3 Dam – Khuzestan, Iran
This arch style dam stops the Karun River in Khuzestan, Iran. Built for both flood control and power generating purposes, the Karun dam makes up for a large portion of Iran’s power shortage. The Karun-3 Dam also boasts the largest reservoir among all double arc concrete dams in the world.
4) The Inguri Dam – Jvari, Georgia
Beginning construction in 1961, the Inguri River Dam is world’s second largest arch dam. Originally, the dam was set to become operational in 1978, and did for a brief time, but it was not fully completed until 1987. During a dam inspection in 1994, it was found that the dam was in extremely poor condition. Since the initial inspection, over €116 million have been spent to bring the dam to acceptable operating standards.
3) Vajont – Erto E Casso, Italy
This dam was touted as ‘The Tallest Dam in the World’ while it was being constructed, and it still remains one of the tallest coming it at 860 feet. Although a rather beautiful structure, this dam has gone unused since October of 1963. While the lake behind the dam was being filled, a large landslide occurred and caused a man-made tsunami which displaced 50 million cubic feet of water. This massive wall of water crested at 820 feet over the top of the dam (almost the height of the dam itself) and came crashing down onto the town below. 1,917 people lost their lives in the resulting flood, and the rest of the reservoir behind the dam was never filled.
2) Sand Dams – Kenya
These dams may not look very impressive, but they serve an extremely important purpose. Providing water to thousands of people in Africa, the sand dams are an engineering marvel for any age. When the dam is first built, it looks like a simple piece of concrete stretched across a riverbed. As rainwater begins to flow in the stream, the majority of it is actually not captured behind the dam, it flows over the top or evaporates. But as more rainy seasons pass by, more and more sand piles up behind the dam, capturing and storing rainwater for sometimes up to 20 years. (Watch this awesome video on sand dams and how they are helping thousands of people in Africa every day)
1) Largest Beaver Dam – Wood Buffalo Park, Canada
The dam that tops this list is, well, cheating. It’s actually a beaver dam, but it’s more spectacular than any man-made dam you’ll ever see. In 2007, it was discovered that a beaver dam in Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada stretched a whopping 2,790 feet, creating a massive marshland around it. Scientists believe that ‘construction’ on this dam has been going on since 1979, and many generations of beaver have put effort into making it the largest beaver dam in the world. Satellite images from NASA show that there are two other dams nearby that could, in the next decade, join together with the existing dam, making it 50 to 100 meters longer than it is today.
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