Alternatives To Dams

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The man-made barrier that is created across the river or underground streams to limit the flow of water is a dam. By doing this way artificial lakes or artificial reservoirs are created. This then has further uses. Such as irrigation, household uses, flood suppression, industrial use, aquaculture, generation of electricity, etc. Their structure is made with the help of bricks, clays, concrete, cement, Iron rode, etc. Even though it has many advantages but there are some disadvantages too. As dams are constructed across the river, it will affect the ecosystem of the river. Since the river is home to many aquatic lives. So an alternative to the dam is an urgent thing.

What are Dams?

Dams are man-made construction done for human necessities. It is a construction that was built across the river to prevent the flow of water across the river. In this way, the obtained water can be utilized for many human activities. The major use of this dam water goes for the generation of electricity, and irrigation. In addition to this, there are some other uses too. They are for aquaculture, household uses, industrial applications, etc. The material used for the construction of dams has changed over time. Rocks or clay are used in ancient times. But now dam builders use concrete. The working of a dam is hindering the flow of water in the river and thereby forming a man-made water reservoir. As it is hindering the flow of water it can also help in the suppression of the flood.

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What are the benefits of the dam?

The benefits of a dam are wide and it ranges from economic to social benefits. The benefits of the dam are listed below.

  • Water storage − It can act as a major reservoir of water that can be used for agricultural, industrial and household uses. And also it can accept extra water that comes to the surface.

  • Flood control − Rivers have divine but sometimes they will act as a boon by creating floods and thereby destroying the life and livelihood of many people living near the river area.

  • Recreation − This artificial water reservoir is the point of attraction. Since many recreational activities can be done that are boating, camping, swimming, etc.

  • Irrigation − A major source of water used in irrigation is from the dam.

  • Debris control − A major source of water used in irrigation is from the dam.

  • Generation of electricity − Hydropower is an essential source of electricity as it does not create any chemical by-product. Almost all the country's main source of electricity is produced from water.

Disadvantages or adverse effects of dams

Dams are built to create more electricity for human needs. But the majority of these dams cannot have much influence on the production of electricity for human desires. Instead, it is causing some adverse effects on the ecosystem and the human being as a whole.

  • It will affect the life of aquatic organisms living in the water.

  • Water wastage results.

  • A large area of land has been submerged as a water reservoir and it has impacted the human beings living near it.

  • Species diversity in water is reduced.

  • Increased sediment build-up.

  • Soil erosion in the surrounding soil.

  • Risk of disaster. If something happens to the dam-building the water present in it can take life and livelihood of lakhs of people.

  • Overflow of water in the dam may happen if more water reaches the surface by rain. .

What is the alternative to dams?

Dams have several disadvantages since it is not the best way to achieve the needs of human beings. So an alternative to the dam is so vital.

  • Focusing on alternative sources of energy − Dams are constructing due to the increased demand for electricity, so finding another efficient source for energy production will decrease the threat caused by dams. Such as solar energy, windmill, thermal power plant, nuclear power plants, etc.

  • Reuse of water − The dam is also a source of water for many applications that human needs. So finding new alternative sources of water can also reduce the number of dams. Such as recycling the sewage water and can reuse it for many other applications such as agriculture, and industrial applications.

  • Managing flood − By reducing the water runoff we can control the flood of many rivers. Since dams play a prominent role in the prevention of floods in rivers.

  • Focus more on the existing dams − Of the many dams that are present only a few of them are utilized properly. Before constructing a new dam one must focus on the utilization or the operation of existing dams. This can reduce the number of dams built across the rivers.

  • Groundwater recharge − Increasing the deposition of water from the surface water to groundwater. Thereby this water can be used for another important application.


Water is a valuable substance that is needed for the existence of human life. It has applications from energy production to drinking purposes. So a proper source of water is necessary. A dam is a man-made construction that is made for the preservation of water. And this source of water is used for many human activities. But after all, has many advantages it also has disadvantages. It can affect the ecosystem since it is a man-built construction. So an alternative source to the dam is extensively needed. And these include groundwater recharge, finding alternative sources of energy, etc. If proper action is not taken against this threat we may suffer from many problems. New technologies must be applied for solving this problem.


Q1. Which is the oldest dam that is found on the earth?

The oldest dam that is present on the earth is the dam Jawa which is located in Jordan. The remnants of this dam are also still there.

Q2. How do dams affect the economy?

Dams help in the growth of the economy in one way or in another way. The water present in dams can be utilized in many fields. Electricity and crops are important sources of the economy. So dams can increase the growth of the economy in the area in which are located.

Q3. How long do dams last?

The average life span of a dam is found to be 50 years. It can effectively work in this life span. Some dams with even more years are also present.

Q4. How does water produce electricity?

A hydroelectric power plant is operating for the harvest of electricity from water. It is done by the rotation of turbines. The water that flows through the pipes falls on the turbines and will make the turbines rotate. Upon the rotation of the turbine, electricity is generated. This then stores properly and can be transported from place to place through wires.

Q5. Can a dam make water toxic?

Dams can make water toxic since it is preventing the flow of water it can increase the growth of microorganisms that is already present in the water. Thereby increasing diseases for human beings. Diseases caused by water pollution have been increasing day by day. And also since it is not flowing the presence of metallic elements will increase if the flow of water in a particular region is increased. Which further has a detrimental effect on aquatic organisms.

Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47