A dam is a hydraulic structure of fairly impervious material built across a river to create a reservoir on its upstream side for impounding water for various purposes. These purposes may be Irrigation, Hydro-power, Water-supply, Flood Control, Navigation, Fishing and Recreation. Dams may be built to meet the one of the above purposes or they may be constructed fulfilling more than one. As such, it can be classified as: Single-purpose and Multipurpose Dam.
Different parts & terminologies of Dams:
- Crest: The top of the dam structure. These may in some cases be used for providing a roadway or walkway over the dam.
- Parapet walls: Low Protective walls on either side of the roadway or walkway on the crest.
- Heel: Portion of structure in contact with ground or river-bed at upstream side.
- Toe: Portion of structure in contact with ground or river-bed at downstream side.
- Spillway: It is the arrangement made (kind of passage) near the top of structure for the passage of surplus/ excessive water from the reservoir.
- Abutments: The valley slopes on either side of the dam wall to which the left & right end of dam are fixed to.
- Gallery: Level or gently sloping tunnel like passage (small room like space) at transverse or longitudinal within the dam with drain on floor for seepage water. These are generally provided for having space for drilling grout holes and drainage holes. These may also be used to accommodate the instrumentation for studying the performance of dam.
- Sluice way: Opening in the structure near the base, provided to clear the silt accumulation in the reservoir.
- Free board: The space between the highest level of water in the reservoir and the top of the structure.
- Dead Storage level: Level of permanent storage below which the water will not be withdrawn.
- Diversion Tunnel: Tunnel constructed to divert or change the direction of water to bypass the dam construction site. The hydraulic structures are built while the river flows through the diversion tunnel.
CLASSIFICATION OF DAMS
Dams can be classified in number of ways. But most usual ways of classification i.e. types of dams are mentioned below:
Based on the functions of dams, it can be classified as follows:
- Storage dams: They are constructed to store water during the rainy season when there is a large flow in the river. Many small dams impound the spring runoff for later use in dry summers. Storage dams may also provide a water supply, or improved habitat for fish and wildlife. They may store water for hydroelectric power generation, irrigation or for a flood control project. Storage dams are the most common type of dams and in general the dam means a storage dam unless qualified otherwise.
- Diversion dams: A diversion dam is constructed for the purpose of diverting water of the river into an off-taking canal (or a conduit). They provide sufficient pressure for pushing water into ditches, canals, or other conveyance systems. Such shorter dams are used for irrigation, and for diversion from a stream to a distant storage reservoir. It is usually of low height and has a small storage reservoir on its upstream. The diversion dam is a sort of storage weir which also diverts water and has a small storage. Sometimes, the terms weirs and diversion dams are used synonymously.
- Detention dams: Detention dams are constructed for flood control. A detention dam retards the flow in the river on its downstream during floods by storing some flood water. Thus the effect of sudden floods is reduced to some extent. The water retained in the reservoir is later released gradually at a controlled rate according to the carrying capacity of the channel downstream of the detention dam. Thus the area downstream of the dam is protected against flood.
- Debris dams: A debris dam is constructed to retain debris such as sand, gravel, and drift wood flowing in the river with water. The water after passing over a debris dam is relatively clear.
- Coffer dams: It is an enclosure constructed around the construction site to exclude water so that the construction can be done in dry. A coffer dam is thus a temporary dam constructed for facilitating construction. These structure are usually constructed on the upstream of the main dam to divert water into a diversion tunnel (or channel) during the construction of the dam. When the flow in the river during construction of hydraulic structures is not much, the site is usually enclosed by the coffer dam and pumped dry. Sometimes a coffer dam on the downstream of the dam is also required.
Based on structure and design, dams can be classified as follows:
- Gravity Dams: A gravity dam is a massive sized dam
fabricated from concrete or stone masonry. They are designed to hold
back large volumes of water. By using concrete, the weight of the dam is
actually able to resist the horizontal thrust of water pushing against
it. This is why it is called a gravity dam. Gravity essentially holds
the dam down to the ground, stopping water from toppling it over.
Gravity dams are well suited for blocking rivers in wide valleys or narrow gorge ways. Since gravity dams must rely on their own weight to hold back water, it is necessary that they are built on a solid foundation of bedrock.
Examples of Gravity dam: Grand Coulee Dam (USA), Nagarjuna Sagar (India) and Itaipu Dam (It lies Between Brazil and Paraguay and is the largest in the world).
- Earth Dams: An earth dam is made of earth (or soil) built up by compacting successive layers of
earth, using the most impervious materials to form a core and placing
more permeable substances on the upstream and downstream sides. A facing
of crushed stone prevents erosion by wind or rain, and an ample
spillway, usually of concrete, protects against catastrophic washout
should the water overtop the dam. Earth dam resists the forces exerted
upon it mainly due to shear strength of the soil. Although the weight of
the this structure also helps in resisting the forces, the structural
behavior of an earth dam is entirely different from that of a gravity
dam. The earth dams are usually built in wide valleys having flat slopes
at flanks (abutments).The foundation requirements are less stringent
than those of gravity dams, and hence they can be built at the sites
where the foundations are less strong. They can be built on all types of
foundations. However, the height of the dam will depend upon the
strength of the foundation material.
Examples of earthfill dam: Rongunsky dam (Russia) and New Cornelia Dam (USA).
- Rockfill Dams: A rockfill dam is built of rock
fragments and boulders of large size. An impervious membrane is placed
on the rockfill on the upstream side to reduce the seepage through the
dam. The membrane is usually made of cement concrete or asphaltic
Examples of rockfill dam: Mica Dam (Canada) and Chicoasen Dam (Mexico).
In early rockfill dams, steel and timber membrane were also used, but
now they are obsolete. A dry rubble cushion is placed between the
rockfill and the membrane for the distribution of water load and for
providing a support to the membrane. Sometimes, the rockfill dams have
an impervious earth core in the middle to check the seepage instead of
an impervious upstream membrane. The earth core is placed against a
dumped rockfill. It is necessary to provide adequate filters between the
earth core and the rockfill on the upstream and downstream sides of the
core so that the soil particles are not carried by water and piping
does not occur. The side slopes of rockfill are usually kept equal to
the angle of repose of rock, which is usually taken as 1.4:1 (or 1.3:1).
Rockfill dams require foundation stronger than those for earth dams.
- Arch Dams: An arch dam is curved in plan, with its
convexity towards the upstream side. They transfers the water pressure
and other forces mainly to the abutments by arch action.
Examples of Arch dam: Hoover Dam (USA) and Idukki Dam (India).
An arch dam is quite suitable for narrow canyons with strong flanks
which are capable of resisting the thrust produced by the arch
action.The section of an arch dam is approximately triangular like a
gravity dam but the section is comparatively thinner. The arch dam may
have a single curvature or double curvature in the vertical plane.
Generally, the arch dams of double curvature are more economical and are
used in practice.
- Buttress Dams: Buttress dams are of three types :
(i) Deck type, (ii) Multiple-arch type, and (iii) Massive-head type. A
deck type buttress dam consists of a sloping deck supported by
buttresses. Buttresses are triangular concrete walls which transmit the
water pressure from the deck slab to the foundation. Buttresses are
compression members. Buttresses are typically spaced across the dam site
every 6 to 30 metre, depending upon the size and design of the dam.
Buttress dams are sometimes called hollow dams because the buttresses do
not form a solid wall stretching across a river valley.The deck is
usually a reinforced concrete slab supported between the buttresses,
which are usually equally spaced. In
a multiple-arch type buttress dam the deck slab is replaced by
horizontal arches supported by buttresses. The arches are usually of
small span and made of concrete. In a massive-head type buttress dam,
there is no deck slab. Instead of the deck, the upstream edges of the
buttresses are flared to form massive heads which span the distance
between the buttresses. The buttress dams require less concrete than
gravity dams. But they are not necessarily cheaper than the gravity dams
because of extra cost of form work, reinforcement and more skilled
labor. The foundation requirements of a buttress are usually less
stringent than those in a gravity dam.
Examples of Buttress type: Bartlett dam (USA) and The Daniel-Johnson Dam (Canada).
- Steel Dams: Dams: A steel dam consists of a steel
framework, with a steel skin plate on its upstream face. Steel dams are
generally of two types: (i) Direct-strutted, and (ii) Cantilever type .
In direct strutted steel dams, the water pressure is transmitted
directly to the foundation through inclined struts. In a cantilever type
steel dam, there is a bent supporting the upper part of the deck, which
is formed into a cantilever truss. This arrangement introduces a
tensile force in the deck girder which can be taken care of by anchoring
it into the foundation at the upstream toe. Hovey suggested that
tension at the upstream toe may be reduced by flattening the slopes of
the lower struts in the bent. However, it would require heavier sections
for struts. Another
alternative to reduce tension is to frame together the entire bent
rigidly so that the moment due to the weight of the water on the lower
part of the deck is utilised to offset the moment induced in the
cantilever. This arrangement would, however, require bracing and this
will increase the cost. These are quite costly and are subjected to
corrosion. These dams are almost obsolete. Steel dams are sometimes used
as temporary coffer dams during the construction of the permanent one.
Steel coffer dams are supplemented with timber or earthfill on the inner
side to make them water tight. The area between the coffer dams is
dewatered so that the construction may be done in dry for the permanent
Examples of Steel type: Redridge Steel Dam (USA) and Ashfork-Bainbridge Steel Dam (USA).
- Timber Dams: Main load-carrying structural elements of timber dam are made of wood, primarily coniferous varieties such as pine and fir. Timber dams are made for small heads (2-4 m or, rarely, 4-8 m) and usually have sluices; according to the design of the apron they are divided into pile, crib, pile-crib, and buttressed dams. The openings of timber dams are restricted by abutments; where the sluice is very long it is divided into several openings by intermediate supports: piers, buttresses, and posts. The openings are covered by wooden shields, usually several in a row one above the other. Simple hoists—permanent or mobile winches—are used to raise and lower the shields.
- Rubber Dams: A symbol of sophistication and simple
and efficient design, this most recent type of dam uses huge cylindrical
shells made of special synthetic rubber and inflated by either
compressed air or pressurized water. Rubber dams offer ease of
construction, operation and decommissioning in tight schedules. These
can be deflated when pressure is released and hence, even the crest
level can be controlled to some extent. Surplus waters would simply
overflow the inflated shell. They need extreme care in design and
erection and are limited to small projects.
Example of Rubber type: Janjhavathi Rubber Dam (India).