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Hot Dams: The World's Most Spectacular Water Walls

13th October 2015

Named after US president Herbert Hoover, the man who oversaw its construction (though his successor Franklin D Roosevelt saw it completed), the Hoover Dam this year celebrated its 80th birthday.

Begun at the start of the Great Depression and finished in 1935 at a cost of US$49 million (about US$900 million today) and more than 100 workers’ lives, the art-deco masterpiece of engineering on the Arizona-Nevada border was built on the Colorado River to generate power, control floods and provide irrigation water.

Here are 12 more spectacular dams around the world that awe-inspiring feats of human engineering.

Grande Dixence Dam, Switzerland

 Image: Alamy

At 285 metres high and 700 metres long, the dam in Valais is the world's tallest gravity dam (a barrage designed to use the weight of the construction to resist the water pressure). Hydroelectric power from the dam, finished in 1964, fuels four power stations.

Contra Dam, Switzerland

 Image: Alamy

More commonly known as the 'Verzasca Dam', this construction famously featured in the opening scene of the 1995 James Bond film, Golden Eye, when 007 leapt off it to evade capture. Bungee jumping off the 220-metre-high dam is now a popular tourist activity.

Cruachan Dam, Scotland

 Image: Alamy

Not a competitor as height goes, but this dam in Argyll and Bute is set deep within the beautiful scenery of Ben Cruachan.

It is one of only four pumped storage power stations in the UK and has what is known as black start capability, to provide power to the National Grid in case of a black out. Cruachan was used as a filming location in the Bond film, The World is Not Enough.

Vajont Dam, Italy

 Image: Getty

This dam in northern Italy is synonymous with a major landslide caused by its construction and the filling of its basin in 1963, which destroyed several villages and led to 1,917 deaths.

Though still in place today, the 262-metre high dam is nothing but a memorial to the disaster, and a tourist attraction.

Tarbela Dam, Pakistan

 Image: Getty

The largest earth-filled dam in the world, the Tarbela Dam in Pakistan's Haripur District forms a reservoir with a surface area of 250 square kilometres. The dam is slowly filling with sediment from its source, the Indus River, in turn sourced by glacial meltwater from the Himalayas.

It was originally thought the reservoir's lifespan might be only 50 years from 1976, but the level of sedimentation has been lower than expected.

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Luzzone Dam, Switzerland

 Image: Alamy

The dam forming the Lago di Luzzone in Ticino features the world's highest artificial climbing wall, made up of more than 650 man-made holds and bolts.

The lowest holds were secured several metres above the ground to prevent casual visitors from climbing on them.

Bhakra Dam, India

 Image: India WRIS

At its completion ceremony in 1963, the Bhakra Dam was described by India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, as the, "New Temple of Resurgent India".

The barrage, in Himachal Pradesh, is a source of great pride for India. To commemorate its 50th anniversary in 2013, a postage stamp featuring image of the dam was produced.

Almendra Dam, Spain

 Image: Alamy

Also known as the Villarino Dam, this dam in Salamanca was finished in 1970 and at 202 metres high is one of Spain's tallest structures. It is 567 metres long.

Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona

 Image: Getty

Another dam on the Colorado River, the Glen Canyon Dam was built some 30 years after the Hoover Dam. The 220-metre-high construction creates Lake Powell behind it.

It is controversial thanks to its position in the desert, which environmentalists say means heavy water losses from the reservoir each year due to seepage through porous rock, and evaporation.

Karun Dam, Iran

 Image: M Samadi/Wikipedia

Opened in 2005, this is the newest dam on our list. Built on the Karun River to help meet Iran's growing energy demands, it has a number of siblings on the same river - known by number. The one pictured is Karun-3. A Karun-5 has been proposed.

Inguri Dam, Georgia

 Image: Alamy

Completed in 1987, but found to be "in a rare state of dilapidation" in 1994, the dam has received a number of EU grants to bring it up to scratch. It is the sixth tallest dam in the world at 272 metres high.

Dworshak Dam, Idaho

 Image: Alamy

On the Clearwater River, the Dworshak Dam was completed in 1973 and is the third tallest in the United States, at 219 metres high. The dam's reservoir is popular with tourists, thanks to tours of the area, water skiing, camping and fishing.

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This article was from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.