In many countries large reservoirs are closely regulated to try to prevent or minimise failures of containment.
Whilst much of the effort is directed at the dam and its associated structures as the weakest part of the overall structure, the aim of such controls is to prevent an uncontrolled release of water from the reservoir. Reservoir failures can generate huge increases in flow down a river valley with the potential to wash away towns and villages and cause considerable loss of life such as the devastation following the failure of containment at Llyn Eigiau which killed 17 people.(see also List of dam failures)
A notable case of reservoirs being used as an instrument of War involved the British Royal Air Force Dambusters raid on Germany in World War II (codenamed "Operation Chastise" ), in which three German reservoir dams were selected to be breached in order to impact on German infrastructure and manufacturing and power capabilities deriving from the Ruhr and Eder rivers. The economic and social impact was derived from the enormous volumes of previously stored water that swept down the valleys wreaking destruction. This raid later became the basis for several films.
Read more about this topic: Reservoir
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