Lake & Reservoir: Understanding the Differences

Lake vs Reservoir

Water is an essential resource for humans, and the demand for freshwater resources continues to grow worldwide. Lakes and reservoirs are two sources of freshwater with many similarities, leading some people to believe the terms are interchangeable. However, there are differences between lakes and reservoirs that will be discussed in this article.

A lake is a body of water located far from the ocean, surrounded by land on all sides. It is typically still or slow-moving but remains a freshwater body as it is fed by a moving water source such as a river or stream. Lakes also drain into rivers to maintain their freshwater status. There are nearly 2 million lakes worldwide, with most found near mountains. A lake forms as surface water accumulates in a basin, although the water does not become trapped; instead, it escapes at a slower rate than it enters.

A reservoir is a term used for a manmade water body, also known as an artificial lake. The water in a reservoir is stored for various purposes, including irrigation. Reservoirs can be created by constructing dams in river valleys and are also used to supply drinking water to homes. They can be classified as upland or lowland depending on their proximity to a water source. Impounding reservoirs, built across river valleys, help prevent flooding and provide water for crop irrigation. In a lowland reservoir, water is pumped from a nearby moving water source such as a river.

Key Takeaways

  • Lakes are primarily natural, while reservoirs (also called impoundments) are manmade.
  • A reservoir is a manmade lake resulting from a dam constructed in a river’s path.
  • Reservoirs can be considered a combination of river and lake features, as they are created by building a dam in a river’s path and flooding the river valley.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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