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What Is The Difference Between A Barrage And A Dam

October 12, 2016
This is a very common question and a very common confusion that prevails to a large extent, this is right actually that’s why you are reading this article. Anyways, the reason for such a confusion is genuine and indisputable because of countless similarities that persist about them. 

A Dam and a Barrage both are artificial man-made structures that are constructed across a river, between the two banks,  Reason for their construction can be to maintain the flow of water, or to divert water to canal for irrigation purpose or for generating electricity. Thus, it often is confusing to find a different between them.

Before going into the detail differences lets first examine the definition of both the structures :- 

There is one structure like that of dam and a barrage that is called a weir, 

Weir is basically an impermeable blockade and obstruction build artificially across the stream throughout its width to raise the level of water in the upstream in order to check the flood, store water or to measure discharge. 

In the simplest of all meanings, a gated weir is known as a barrage. To be gated means that a barrage is an artificial obstruction constructed across the flow of the river that can regulate the flow of river and divert the river water into the canal after raising the water to a small elevation as needed for the irrigation of the catchment area of the canal. 
The dam on the other hand is an impervious obstruction built across the flow of the river in order to store water, generate electricity for aesthetic purpose and to control floods. 
The basic difference is actually now already explained in the definitions as cited above; however, lets explain it for the ones who not have yet understood the trick of difference. 
We can differentiate a dam and a barrage in two ways; either difference in function or difference in structure. 

Difference in function 

The main function behind the construction of dam is to create a water reservoir which will in turn use for drinking purpose or with the help of the energy stored in the water electricity can be generated where water through penstocks are taken to the turbines which after generation of electricity through the water out through tailrace back to river. 
This implies that dam are actually multipurpose like one purpose is water storage, electricity or power generation, aesthetic or artistic purpose. 

The barrage on the other hand have no such storage of water, barrage cannot be considered as head raising headworks, the basic function of a barrage is just to regulate the flow of river of water into the canals in the amount as needed for agriculture use. 
The word “barrage” is actually a French word having meaning of “a dam”. Actually this word was originated by two French who were employed in Egyptian Public works who built Delta Barrage across Nile-Branches near north of Cairo. British after seeing them taken the word barrage and called similar structures with this name when constructed in British India. This is the reason why this word is still used for structures constructed in Middle East, Iran, Pakistan and India. 


Difference in Structure

As we know that gates and sluices are constructed both in barrages and dams so whats the difference:- the answer is; that in dams the gates and sluices are always at the top having concrete structure beneath to retain sufficient amount of water and if required the water is allowed to move through gates in the structure called spillway.

What Is The Difference Between A Barrage And A Dam
What Is The Difference Between A Barrage And A Dam
Whereas in Barrages, the gates are from the top upto the bed of the river thus the water storage capacity of barrage is just dependent on the height of gates.

I hope so after this discussion your question that what is the difference between a dam and a barrage? What is barrage? What is a dam? What is a weir? Where the word “barrage” is originated? Etc have been answered.

Difference between a Canal and a Dam


So fellows the update is here - I have been recently emailed by one of my friend who is asking that what is the "difference between a between a canal and a dam" 

So from definition point of view; a Dam is actually constructed to obstruct the flow of river water with purpose of either creating a reservoir, generating electricity, recreational and irrigation purpose. And as for the canal; a canal is a water course which is constructed by excavating and maintaining suitable level for water to flow from reservoir to the area to be irrigated.

Dam and canal can actually be taken as a system for irrigation. But in run of river hydro-power projects where divided fall of water is used for power generation; the canal is constructed to embrace the diverted river water to the tunnel and finally to the power house turbines.

According to dynapac - the famous earth compaction machinery manufactures - Both dams and canals are designed on a fine grained, non-permeable core or lining. For the proper support of the fine material and to stay in position, the core of a dam requires strong shoulders to withstand the massive water pressure, and a canal lining needs a strong base underneath as well as erosion protection on top to prevent the flowing water eroding the fine material.



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