The United States is known for huge construction projects, many of which cost billions of dollars. Among the many examples of these projects are dams which are constructed for numerous reasons including energy production and flood prevention. Construction of dams leads to the formation of large artificial lakes behind the dams which are known as reservoirs. The United States has some of the largest reservoirs in the world. The two largest in the country is Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas and Amistad Reservoir in the Texas-Mexico border.
The Largest Reservoirs in the United States
Bull Shoals Lake
Bull Shoals Lake is a huge artificial lake situated near the Ozark Mountains in the states of Arkansas and Missouri. The reservoir was formed after the construction of the Bull Shoals Dam in 1951 which impounds the White River. At the time of the dam’s construction, Bull Shoals Dam was the 5th largest dam in the world. Bull Shoals Lake is the largest reservoir in the United States and covers a total surface area of 5.76 million acres. The maximum length of the reservoir stretches 80 miles, while its average depth is 75 feet and is 210 feet deep at its deepest point. The primary purpose for the formation of the Bull Shoals Lake was for flood control. Bull Shoals Lake is a top tourist attraction in Arkansas and is ideal for water activities such as water sports, fishing, and swimming. Another key attraction near the reservoir is the Bull Shoals-White River State Park covering 725 acres which has numerous facilities including camping, pavilions, and picnic sites. The waters of Bull Shoals Lake have an elevation of 654 feet above sea level. However, in 2008 heavy rain experienced in the White River’s upstream caused the water levels in the reservoir to reach an unprecedented elevation of 695.02 feet above sea level.
Amistad Reservoir is a large artificial lake which lies partly in Val Verde County, Texas, and Acuna Municipality of Coahuila, Mexico. Amistad Reservoir is located at the confluence of the Devils River and the Rio Grande River. The reservoir was formed after the construction of the Amistad Dam which impounded the waters of the Rio Grande River and Devils River. Amistad Reservoir covers a total surface area of 5.658 million acres, making it the second-largest reservoir in the United States. There is a large park found on the American shores of the reservoir known as the Amistad National Recreation Area which is a prime tourist attraction. The Amistad Dam was constructed between 1964 and 1969. Construction of the Amistad Dam was a joint effort of the United States and Mexican governments after the two countries signed a treaty in 1944 aimed at the construction of a hydro-electric dam on the site. Management of both the dam and the reservoir is handled by the International Boundary and Water Commission, an international body formed by the Mexican and American governments.
Impacts of Reservoirs
Reservoirs are a critical source of fresh water for the communities living around the reservoirs. The reservoirs also have other purposes including the regulation of water levels which is important in averting floods in a river’s downstream regions. The large American reservoirs also act as tourist attractions from the parks and recreation areas found on the shores. However, the establishment of reservoirs can also have detrimental effects, especially in the biosphere. The formation of Amistad Reservoir led to the submerging of Goodenough Spring which was the only wild habitat for the Amistad gambusia, a fish species. The species was declared extinct in 1987.
The Largest Reservoirs in the United States
|Rank||Name||Capacity (Acre-Feet)||Capacity (Km^3)||Surface Area (Acres)||Surface Area (Hectares)||Dam||River||Year Constructed|
|1||Bull Shoals Lake||5,760,000||7.105||71,240||28,830||Bull Shoals Dam||White River||1951|
|2||Amistad Reservoir||5,658,600||6.98||64,900||26,300||Amistad Dam||Rio Grande||1969|
|3||Dworshak Reservoir||3,469,900||4.28||16,418||6,644||Dworshak Dam||N.F. Clearwater River||1973|
|4||Center Hill Lake||2,092,000||2.58||18,220||7,370||Center Hill Dam||Caney Fork||1948|
|5||Don Pedro Reservoir||2,030,000||2.504||12,960||5,240||New Don Pedro Dam||Tuolumne River||1971|
|6||Canyon Ferry Lake||1,997,900||2.464||35,181||14,237||Canyon Ferry Dam||Missouri River||1954|
|7||Beaver Lake||1,950,000||2.405||31,700||12,800||Beaver Dam||White River||1966|
|8||Belton Lake||1,876,700||2.315||37,340||15,110||Belton Dam||Leon River||1954|
|9||Dale Hollow Reservoir||1,706,000||2.104||27,700||11,200||Dale Hollow Dam||Caddo River||1972|
|10||American Falls Reservoir||1,672,600||2.063||56,000||23,000||American Falls Dam||Snake River||1978|
|11||Cherokee Lake||1,541,000||1.901||28,780||11,650||Cherokee Dam||Holston River||1941|
|12||Douglas Lake||1,461,000||1.802||28,420||11,500||Douglas Dam||French Broad River||1943|
|13||Brownlee Reservoir||1,426,700||1.76||15,000||6,100||Brownlee Dam||Snake River||1958|
|14||Arkabutla Lake||1,383,800||1.707||30,000||12,000||Arkabutla Dam||Coldwater River||1943|
|15||DeGray Lake||1,377,100||1.699||18,000||7,300||DeGray Dam||Caddo River||1972|
|16||Broken Bow Lake||1,368,230||1.688||18,000||7,300||Broken Bow Dam||Mountain Fork||1968|
|17||Allegheny Reservoir||1,300,000||1.604||21,180||8,570||Kinzua Dam||Allegheny River||1965|
|18||Banks Lake||1,275,000||1.573||26,900||10,900||Dry Falls Dam, North Dam||Grand Coulee||1949|
|19||Abiquiu Lake||1,192,801||1.471||12,430||5,030||Abiquiu Dam||Rio Chama||1963|
|20||Cedar Creek Reservoir||1,085,000||1.338||34,000||14,000||Joe B. Hogsett Dam||Cedar Creek||1965|
|21||Alamo Lake||1,043,000||1.287||17,000||6,900||Alamo Dam||Bill Williams River||1968|