Although all reservoirs are built to store water, their functions may differ. There are at least five major types of reservoirs but many are designed for multiple purposes. The management of multipurpose reservoirs builds upon compromises because it is nearly impossible to operate each function at its maximum level.
This is the most common type of reservoir, built especially in dry parts of the world. Water in irrigation reservoirs is released into networks of canals
'Raw water' means surface water or groundwater, which, because of its bacteriological and chemical quality, turbidity, color, or mineral content, is unsatisfactory as a source for a community water system without treatment. Raw water reservoirs are used primarily for storing raw water to be treated and used in a community water system.
Commonly known as 'attenuation' reservoirs, these are used to prevent flooding of lower lying lands. Flood control reservoirs collect water at times of unseasonally high rainfall, and then release it slowly over the course of the following weeks or months. To solve problems of hydrographic imbalance, transvasements, i.e., artificial crossings of water from one river basin to another, are used to decrease floods or to move water to lands with droughts. In countries with timber-floating, such reservoirs were used to even out the spring flood peak and make rivers floatable over a longer time.
Rarely, reservoirs are built solely for recreation. Most reservoirs are built for a civic purpose, but still allow fishing, boating, and other activities. At some reservoirs, special rules may apply for the safety of the public.
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