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Reservoir – Dam Structure, Cross Section & Terminologies

Dam - reservoir Structure ( Spillway. Sluice,water Level , Toe, Gallery,

Dam – reservoir Structure,  Cross Section ( Spillway. Sluice,water Level , Toe, Gallery, Heel )

What is reservoir

The part of catchment’s area behind (upstream) the dam in which the water is stored.


These are controlled/uncontrolled openings in the body of the dam or somewhere else on the reservoir periphery in order to convey the reservoir water downstream.


The sloping sides of the valley upon which the dam rests.

River or channel section

Is the central portion of the dam that directly overlies the river channel.


The upstream portion of the dam where it contacts the foundation surface.


the downstream portion of the dam where it contacts the bearing surface.


Is the topmost plane on the dam, sometimes used as roadways/pedestrians etc.

Parapet Walls

walls along the length of the dam on either side of crest to afford safety to a road or a walkway.

Axis of the dam

An imaginary line drawn along the exact center of the plan of the crest.

Dam X-Section

Section drawn across the axis of the dam.

Free board

The distance between the highest level of water in the reservoir and top (crest) of the dam.

Maximum water level

The highest elevation at which water can be stored in a reservoir without overtopping the dam or being released through the spillways.

Minimum water level

The lowest elevation to which the reservoir water can be lowered and water still be drawn.

Dead Storage Water Surface

The elevation of the reservoir below, which water stays permanently in the reservoir and cannot be drawn.

Tail water

Water at the downstream side of the dam.


These are horizontal and/or vertical openings within the body of a dam at one/various levels to monitor seepage/leakage and other maintenance schedules.

sample Dam