Since the dawn of civilisation, every major city has depended on manmade water reservoirs. Human beings have crafted artificial lakes for water catchment and irrigation, flood mitigation, aesthetic or religious purposes, and more recently, power generation.
One ancient example still in use today is Lake Qattinah in Homs, Syria, constructed over 1,700 years ago by the Romans. It continues to supply the whole city with drinking water, while also irrigating some 20,000 hectares of farmland.
We take a look at some of the most interesting examples of manmade bodies of water from around the world.
Lake Pichola, Udaipur, India
In the majestic, yet dry dessert landscape of Rajasthan, Udaipur emerges as a city of lakes from its very inception. At its heart is the ancient Lake Pichola, which was first constructed by nomadic Banjara tribesman in 1362 for irrigation and drinking water. Today, it remains an important water catchment facility.
So charming was the lake and the green hills surrounding it, that Maharana Udai Singh founded the city of Udaipur on its banks in 1553, kickstarting a centuries-long history of expansion and ornamentation. Through the years, beautiful palaces and marble temples were built on islands within the lake. The main Lake Palace, now a luxury heritage hotel, is reputed to rival the Taj Mahal’s legendary beauty. Ornamental arch bridges also connect some of its banks, and popular step ghats, where tourists and locals alike gather, dot the lakeside.
The four-kilometre-long lake is also home to a bird sanctuary on Arsi Vilas island and a game sanctuary on its western shore.
Jurong Lake Gardens, Singapore
The small tropical island nation of Singapore suffers from both too little water (for use by its population) as well as too much water (the threat of floods). The Jurong Lake Gardens is one of many mechanisms to address these problems. It is also a lush and gorgeous community asset beloved by all.
The 70-hectare freshwater Jurong Lake was formed by damming Sungei Jurong in the early 1970s, and it still contributes to the country’s water supply. In the early 2000s, the Jurong Lake Gardens project started to take shape. Today, the 90-hectare property comprises four lakeside gardens, including Chinese and Japanese gardens and a snaking promenade, popular with locals for exercise. There is also a running track and facilities for watersports, fishing and public gatherings.
To promote climate resilience, various environmentally sensitive designs have been put in place. The gardens are designed to be inundated during storms, as a way to divert flooding from population centres. Swales and bioretention basins cleanse water runoff, then rainwater is harvested in inland ponds for irrigation. The water is also circulated through phytoremediation ponds and biotopes, consisting of a series of cleansing cells containing sand beds that filter out particulate matter, cleaning the water over time. Other features ensure constant water recycling, prevent algal blooms and maintain high water quality standards.
Seli'š Ksanka Qlispe’ , Montana, USA
Though not as famous as the Hoover Dam, Seli'š Ksanka Qlispe’ in Montana is arguably more beautiful. It stands fifty-four feet taller than Niagara Falls, on the Flathead River and is surrounded by a breathtaking mountainous landscape.
The concrete gravity-arch dam, which requires less maintenance than other dam designs, serves not only to produce hydroelectric energy, but also irrigation and recreation. The surrounding reservoir project supports campgrounds, boat ramps and marina, hikes and treks.
Originally known as Kerr Dam after the president of the power plant that built it in the 1930s, the reservoir is located on indigenous reservation land. In 2015, a confederacy of tribes bought over the 210MW capacity plant, and renamed it Seli'š Ksanka Qlispe’. The electricity generated powers about 147,000 homes and brings in more than $10 million in annual revenue for the tribes.
Burj Khalifa Lake, Dubai, UAE
Sandwiched between the world's tallest skyscraper and the world's largest shopping mall is a monumental artificial lake which hosts the world's largest dancing fountain. The 30-acre body of water was constructed to link together the main buildings of the development, and wraps around the Burj Khalifa tower, creating dramatic views. Recreation is the name of the game, with 11 hectares of park and water features melding together, including grand lakeside promenades, water terraces, cascading falls, ornamental bridges, aquarium and children’s water play areas.
Undoubtedly, the biggest draw is the Dubai Fountain, the record-breaking water spectacle that takes place multiple times a day right in front of the Burj Khalifa tower, and can be seen from virtually every corner of the lake. Visitors can also get up close and personal by booking a ride on a traditional abra boat.
The most technologically advanced submarine robotic water jets are employed, with the capacity to shoot water 50 storeys high. 6,600 lights and 50 coloured projectors create stunning images on its darting water forms. Over 1,000 choreographies are programmed to accompany classical and contemporary Arabic and world music.
Lake Văcărești, Bucharest, Romania
During Romania’s communist era, a vast concrete crater was built a few kilometres from Bucharest’s historic centre, envisioned as an artificial lake connected to the river Dâmboviţa, that would create a mini port in the capital city. Due to some serious miscalculations, the 4-kilometre perimeter bowl was never filled with water and the whole project was abandoned.
Eventually, groundwater sources started to gush in, bringing fish species not endemic to the area. The 190-hectare surface started to become a wetland, hosting rare migratory birds, who brought seeds from different plants.
Today, this one-of-a-kind “lake” is among Europe’s largest protected nature parks, a green oasis in the midst of one of the world’s densest cities. Its marshy conditions protect it from the plans of developers who have mooted all kinds of ideas, from golf courses to apartment buildings. Conditions are so fragile that visitors can’t actually go down into the park itself; the five-metre-wide concrete embankment that isolates this green space from the surrounding city remains the best spot to take it all in.
The biodiversity that has flourished is astounding. The northern edge is a meadow with wild grass, nut trees, poplars and elms, but deeper in, approaching the three interconnected lakes at its heart, the landscape transforms into a wetland, with willows, Johnson grass and water lilies.
Slider 4: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerr_Dam