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The River Basin  
 Introduction
Geography
Climate and Weather
Hydrology
 Principles of Hydrology
 Water Cycle
 Surface Water
 Streams and Rivers
Lakes and Reservoirs
 Flooding
 Groundwater
 SW/GW Interactions
 Water Balance
 Hydrology of the Orange-Senqu River Basin
Water Quality
Ecology and Biodiversity
 References


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Hydrology: Surface Water:

Lakes and Reservoirs

   

A lake is a body of standing water, shaped by the geography of an area. The flow of water may be reduced by low relief or by a narrowing of the channel, allowing the water to accumulate (Pidwirny 2006a).

A reservoir is a body or water that collects behind a man-made dam wall or weir. Reservoirs are built to gather water to supply for domestic, industrial or agricultural uses. The controlled release of water from a reservoir is also used to generate electricity. Dams vary in size; small dams are built by individual farmers to retain water for irrigation and livestock watering; while large dam walls are constructed by national authorities for large-scale uses such as irrigation schemes and hydropower generation.

Dreihuk Dam, Namibia.
Source:DRFN 2004
( click to enlarge )

The amount of time water stays in a reservoir or lake is known as the residence time; the time it takes to change all the water in a lake or reservoir is known as the replacement rate. Residence times and replacement rates range from years in large natural lakes, to weeks in large reservoirs, and days in run-of-the-river dams.

 

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