Major Reservoir Development Programs

Hydroelectric power in Canada Hydroelectric power generation in Canada began in the last decades of the 19th century, with construction of facilities near waterfalls in Ontario, and grew steadily in the 20th century. Dam construction slowed in Canada during the Depression of the 1930s, but increased rapidly in the years following World War II. Several large reservoirs were constructed in the Ottawa River system bordering Ontario and Quebec. In the 1960s, a few very large hydroelectric dams were built in British Columbia, including a 244-m high dam that impounds Kinbasket Lake, and dams forming the Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes. The most extensive

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Figure 3 Large reservoirs of North America.

Figure 4 Number and storage volume of dams in the U.S. National Inventory of Dams.

Canadian hydroelectric projects have been built by Quebec Hydro, which has constructed several very large reservoirs. Among these are Lake Manicouagan (mentioned above), and the La Grande 2 and 3 reservoirs of the James Bay Project. Smallwood Reservoir in Labrador is also linked to the Quebec Hydro network.

Large dam programs in the United States In 1902, the U.S. Reclamation Act established a program of government-sponsored irrigation development projects in the western United States. Among the first of these were the 32-km2 Belle Fourche Reservoir in South Dakota (1907), Pathfinder Reservoir in Wyoming (91 km2, 1909), Theodore Roosevelt Reservoir in Arizona (72 km2, 1909), and Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico (162 km2, 1915). The largest Bureau of Reclamation Project by volume is Lake Mead, impounded by the Hoover Dam in 1935. It has an area of 660 km2, and an original storage volume of 40 km3. The most controversial Bureau of Reclamation reservoir is Lake Powell (687km2) in Arizona and Utah, completed in 1963. The debate over construction of this reservoir focused on the loss of a spectacular canyon wilderness upstream of the Grand Canyon, and raised public awareness of the negative aspects of reservoir development.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is one of the largest reservoir development programs in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1933, with a mission to spur economic development through constructing reservoirs for electricity generation and flood control. Today its reservoirs are also major recreational facilities. They include Norris Lake (137km2) and Kentucky Lake (66 km2).

The Bureau of Reclamation and the TVA are only two of many major governmental reservoir-construction programs in the United States. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has also built a great many reservoirs as part of its flood control mission, has compiled an inventory of dams in the United States. It lists over 75 000 features that are more than 2 m in height and impound more than 61700 m3, or are more than 8 m high and impound more than 18 500 m3. Not all of these create permanent lakes, but this gives an indication of the numbers of medium-to-large artificial impoundments in the United States.

Large reservoirs in Mexico and Central America Several large reservoirs have been constructed in Mexico, primarily in the latter part of the 20th century. Among these are Lake Angostura (760 km2), Lake Inhernillo (665 km2), Lake Miguel Aleman (400 km2), Lake Malpaso (381 km2), and the Falcon and Amistad Reservoirs on the U.S.-Mexico Border (329 and 238 km2, respectively). The Chixoy

Reservoir in Guatemala gained international notoriety because of violent evictions of people living in the area that was to be inundated. The dam went into operation in 1983, but the episode increased awareness of the negative aspects of reservoir construction.

Small impoundments In addition to the thousands of large reservoirs that have been built in North America, millions of small impoundments dot the landscape (refer to 'see also' section), especially in the United States. The earliest of these were those associated with the water power, mentioned earlier. By the early 20th century a new form of pond was appearing, primarily in agricultural areas where cattle production required additional water sources for livestock beyond what was available in streams. The need was particularly great in the eastern Great Plains, and in the southeast where despite ample precipitation streamflow can be very limited seasonally. Initially, these ponds were constructed by private landowners, but beginning with the 1936 Flood Control Act the Federal government became increasingly involved in subsidizing construction of small reservoirs. Construction of such impoundments was especially rapid in the decades following World War II, when machinery was widely available as were government subsidies for this work. The construction of ponds to support agricultural needs diminished in the 1980s and 1990s, but this was replaced by ponds built primarily for recreational or aesthetic purposes, largely in suburban areas, and for stormwater control in urban and suburban developments. In the United States these small impoundments now number in the millions (Figure 5).

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