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Site Selection for Dams

By: Haseeb Jamal / On: Sep 21, 2018 / Factors Affecting
Site Selection for Dams

The purpose of a dam is to retain and store large quantities of water in a safe way. Many considerations are analyzed. Dams can be built anywhere if you can spend enough money. However preferred site have following characteristics which lead to lower project costs. Thus alternate dam sites/axis location are evaluated for most cost effective choice.

  1. Small river channel width with steep side gorge: short dam crest length, leads to large storage for small dam length
  2. A wide and gently sloping valley upstream of the dam site (for storage dams) and narrow and steeply sloping valley for hydropower dams.
  3. River channel and valley has very flat slopes upstream of dam site (leads to large storage for small dam heights).
  4. Where a deep reservoir possible, it resultantly requires less area and lesser land costs, less surface evaporation
  5. Enough water flow/yield should be available to meet the demand of the area
  6. High sediment load tributaries are excluded
  7. Geology should be favorable for foundation (foundation can be designed at any site, but it increases costs), competent hard rock is most suitable.
  8. Abutments are water tight, and reservoir rim allows minimum percolation and seepage losses.
  9. Small river sediment rate (longer dam life) Depend on river morphology and catchment characteristics. Gomal Zam has 10 times sediment load than Kurram Tangi dam, thus large dead storage space is adopted.
  10. Land use of reservoir area should be minimal – Less land area means lesser compensations to be given to the land owners and lower land cost.
  11. Reservoir area not very sensitive to environment (wild life parks, endangered species, historical places, monuments etc).
  12. No seismic and tectonic activities or active faults in and near the site.
  13. Socio-political stability (no unstable gestures) (Gomal-Zam, Mirani, Kurram Tangi dams), Diamer-Basha vs Kalabagh dams.
  14. Reservoir and dam area should be thinly populated
  15. Site must have adequate stream flow record
  16. Site is easily accessible; approach road is present or can be developed easily.
  17. Construction material available nearby easily
  18. Site near load center (demand area) for water+ power
  19. No mineral resources in reservoir area (present or future)
  20. Site allows a deep reservoir & small surface area (less land costs and small evaporation losses).
  21. Existing infrastructure, e.g. highway, least affected. E.g. KKH and Bhasha-Diamer dam.


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nikkihope Jun 19, 2019

Dams are very important in terms to reserve Water as we all know that water is our lifeline without it we can not survive. and this blog especially Haseeb Jameel you have done a remarkable effort to educate people about the very basic and key information about civil engineering. Construction is not an easy task to do I have a business of Packaging and I deal in especially in Kraft Material Boxes in the USA. For this I have to setup a plant and after 3 months of intance struggle I finaly come to the complete construction model framework. I must say Civil engineering  is the best job which I have build my interest. Thank you Haseeb for providing us these type of informative articles. Good Luck!

amandalove Jul 05, 2019

There are lots of interesting and valuable articles about Civil Engineering but I found your blog top of the list from all other blogs. especially this post educate me about each necessary step that required for building a huge dam to store water. Just like I had visited at for gaining more knowledge about Custom Printed Boxes. I personally like your blog for spreading a very positive inforatmoin or I can say for spreading key knowledge about Civil Engineering. I have bookmarked your blog and will visit here again. Thank you!

juliarobert Aug 15, 2019

This remarkable website is providing skill base techniques about Civil Engineering. People from any other part of the world can easily get clear their views which are really helping in this industry. I personally want to thank you for providing such a piece of great information. Good luck. 

Jordanbelfort Sep 11, 2019

The choice of Dam site for building a dam ought to be administered by the accompanying elements. For economy, the length of the dam ought to be as little as could be allowed, and for a given tallness, it should store the most extreme volume of water.

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