Dams provide many important benefits to people, including flood risk reduction, power production, water supply for municipal, irrigation, and industrial uses, regulation of water quality, recreation, and navigation. The design of the various components of dams (e.g. turbines, storage, outlets) requires an awareness of the multiple uses of the dam and their sometimes contrasting requirements for reservoir capacity and releases. We provide the case of Folsom Dam, utilizing historical design documents and more current documents describing ongoing modifications of the dam, in order to provide tangible examples of the approaches, constraints, and adaptations of dams and reservoirs.
This module is very limited in the scope of issues related to dams, with deliberate emphasis on background information related to the design of storage and releases associated with flood control, hydropower, and water supply. The intent of this set of learning modules was to provide a basic awareness of the design approaches and constraints of dam engineering, as well as a foundation from which students can begin re-imagining the future of water resources management. Changing hydrology in response to land and climate change, as well as the aging of existing infrastructure and the growing population, already pose major challenges in maintaining the reliability of dams and reservoirs to meet the multiple objectives, and these challenges are certain to expand into the future. In addition, other factors that must be considered in planning any new facility and/or the reoperation of existing facilities include those associated with the age, condition, and adequacy of existing infrastructure, resettlement of displaced people if new areas are flooded, transboundary sharing and governance of water, participation of stakeholders in decisionmaking around water infrastructure, changing water quality and quantity regulations, integration of wind and other renewable energy, and equity-based distribution of costs and benefits derived from dams.