The history of reservoirs and dams in the USA is closely tied to the country's development and growth. Major river systems like the Colorado, Columbia, and Missouri have been extensively dammed to provide water for irrigation, hydropower, flood control, and recreation. Many of these dams were constructed in the mid-20th century, during a period of rapid infrastructure development, and have since played an essential role in the country's economy and society.
The US has a vast network of dams and reservoirs, with over 90,000 dams across the country, including 2,500 major dams. Many of these dams are located on major river systems, such as the Colorado River, where they have significant hydrological impacts on the river's flow and ecosystem. Dams can also have important climatic impacts, influencing the amount of water available for irrigation, and potentially affecting regional climates. For example, the construction of large reservoirs in arid regions like the Colorado River basin can lead to increased evaporation rates, reducing the amount of water available for other uses. Additionally, climate change may exacerbate existing hydrological and climatic concerns, potentially leading to more frequent and severe droughts and floods in certain regions.
The USA is home to many of the largest dams in the world, providing essential services such as water storage, hydropower generation, and flood control. Among them, Oroville Dam stands out as the tallest dam in the United States, located in northern California. Another famous dam is the Hoover Dam, located on the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada. It is a major tourist attraction and an engineering marvel of the modern era, providing hydropower and water storage for millions of people.
Other notable dams in the USA include the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona, which is the second-highest concrete arch dam in the country, and the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington, which is the largest electric power-producing facility in the USA. These dams are a critical component of the country's infrastructure, providing essential services for the economy, society, and the environment.
The number and distribution of dams and reservoirs in the USA have been significantly impacted by climate change. The changing climate has led to changes in precipitation patterns, increased evaporation rates, and more frequent and severe droughts and floods in certain regions. These factors have influenced the management and operations of dams and reservoirs across the country.