Multipurpose reservoirs may be managed to balance some or all of the following activities:
- Water supply
- Flood control
- Soil erosion
- Environmental management
- Hydroelectric power generation
The multipurpose nature of these facilities dictates that the agencies which manage them are responsible for balancing competing demands. For example, managers responsible for hydroelectric power generation often want to keep lake levels as high as possible, since the water stored in the reservoir serves as a kind of "fuel" for their generators. However, managers responsible for flood control often want to keep lake levels as low as possible to provide the maximum amount of storage capacity for rainwater runoff.
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