27 Jul Biggest Dams in the World
Dams have become an essential part of human infrastructure. They are used to generate electricity, irrigate farmlands, and a crucial piece in preventing floods. Dams are used in many different shapes and forms all across the planet and have become an integral part of our lives. In addition to being very important to our civilization, many dams are prime examples of complex modern engineering. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest dams in the world to learn more about their function and construction.
1) The Tarbela Dam
- Location: Tarbela, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
- Year Completed: 1976
- Construction Cost: $1.497 billion
- Total Capacity: 138,600,000 cu yd
- Height: 143 meters
- Length: 2,743 meters
The Tarbela Dam takes the cake as the largest earth-filled dam on planet earth. It’s also the 5th largest structure in the world by volume. The dam was first constructed to control flooding from the Indus River into the farming villages that sat in the basin. The farming families were relocated to newly built villages that now use the dam to irrigate millions of acres of farmland. Since its completion in 1976, the Tarbela Dam has undergone several additions of hydropower facilities in order to keep up with the increasing demand for electricity throughout Pakistan. The aim has been to move the country from expensive, imported oil needed to run thermal plants. The newest hydropower plant is being added to an existing water tunnel at the northeast end of the dam, and is expected to be completed in 2018.
2) Fort Peck Dam
- Location: Missouri River, Fort Peck, Montana
- Year Completed: 1933
- Construction Cost: $100 million
- Dam Volume: 125,628,000 cu yd
- Height: 76.4 meters
- Length: 6,409 meters
The Fort Peck Dam is one of six dams along the Missouri River, and sits on a stretch that flows from South to North. It’s the largest hydraulically filled dam in the United States. It’s dimensions are 250ft tall and 21,026ft long. The dam creates Fort Peck Lake, which is the fifth largest lake in the United States. This lake is huge and has a coastline longer than the California coastline. Fort Peck Dam was part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, and employed 10,546 workers at the height of its construction in 1936.
3) Ataturk Dam
- Location: Şanlıurfa-Adıyaman, Turkey
- Year Completed: 1983
- Construction Cost: $1.25 billion
- Total Capacity: 110,521,827 cu yd
- Height: 184 meters
- Length: 1,820 meters
The Ataturk Dam is the largest of 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric stations that sit on the Euphrates and Tigress Rivers. It provides irrigation, flood control, and power to both Turkey and Syria. The dam is named for the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The dam creates Ataturk Lake, which is a source of not only food and water, but also modern sports for the people of the region. There is some controversy surrounding the dam, as some water and power sourced from it are no longer flowing downstream to Iraq. Some speculate that the the Ataturk Dam has cut the flow from the Euphrates by about a third, but Turkey denies that it withholds any water or power from its downstream neighbors.
4) Houtribdijk Dike
- Location: N302 Enkhuizen — Lelystad, Netherlands
- Year Completed: 1975
- Construction Cost: $64.14 million
- Total Capacity: 68 meters in width
- Height: 13 meters
- Length: 30,000 meters
Houtribdijk, although called a dike, is technically a dam. It was built to connect the cities of Lelystad and Enkhuizen, and carries approximately 8,500 commuters and travelers per day. Locals say it’s one of the most beautifully scenic route for any trip through the Netherlands. It runs 30km, approximately 18.6 miles, from city to city. Houtribdijk boasts two marine traffic crossings, and an emergency harbor that also houses a restaurant, and a radio station. It is even ranked number 8 by TripAdvisor for attractions in the Lelystad area.
5) Oahe Dam
- Location: Hughes/Stanley Counties, South Dakota, USA
- Year Completed: 1962
- Construction Cost: $340 million
- Total Capacity: 93,122,000 cu yd
- Height: 13 meters
- Length: 30,000 meters
The Oahe Dam is on the Missouri River, just north of Pierre, South Dakota.It is another of the Missouri River’s vital dams with a dark history. It’s named for the Oahe Indian Mission established by the Lakota Sioux in 1874. The Oahe Dam was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1944, and construction began in 1948. In 1952, the first rock tunnel boring machine (TBM) was invented for this project. President John F. Kennedy officially dedicated the dam in August 1962. It provides flood control, electricity, irrigation, and navigation benefits, though not all results of the dam are positive. Several Indian Reservations lost thousands of acres of land, including the Standing Rock Reservation, which lost just over 55,000 acres to the project.
Of the biggest dams in the world, these are the top 5. However this list only scratches the surface of large dams on this planet. From China to Venezuela there are many other massive dams all with important function and often with an interesting story behind them.