Difference Between Lake and Reservoir

Lake vs Reservoir

Water is the most essential commodity for human beings, and there is a growing demand for freshwater resources around the world to meet the requirements of human beings. Lakes and reservoirs are two resources of freshwater that have many similarities between them. In fact, there are many who feel that the two terms are synonymous. However, despite similarities, there are differences between a lake and a reservoir that will be highlighted in this article.


A lake is a water body that is far away from the ocean. It is found in the mainland and is surrounded on all sides by land. It is a water body that is still or very slow moving. However, it is a freshwater body as it is fed by a moving body of water such as a river or any other stream. Lake also is drained into a river so that its water remains fresh water. There are close to 2 million lakes around the world, and most of these are found near the mountains. A lake is a result of accumulation of surface water in a spot that has a basin. However, water is not trapped in the basin; but rather, it escapes at a slower pace than it gets inside.


Reservoir is a word that is used for manmade water body. This body is also called an artificial lake, and its water is stored to be used for irrigation and other purposes. A reservoir can be made through construction of dams in river valleys. Reservoirs are also used to supply drinking water to homes. A reservoir can be upland or lowland depending upon its proximity to a water source. Those built across river valleys are impounding reservoirs that serve to prevent flooding and also to be used for irrigation of crops. In a lowland reservoir, water is pumped from a nearby moving water body such as a river.

What is the difference between Lake and Reservoir?

• Lakes are mostly natural whereas reservoirs, also called impoundments, are manmade.

• Reservoir is a manmade lake that is a result of a dam created in the path of a river.

• A reservoir can be thought of as a combination of the features of both rivers and lakes as it is made by creating a dam in the path of a river and then flooding a valley of the river.

• Not all reservoirs are manmade as there are underground reservoirs of water and oil.

• A reservoir is created when a barrier is introduced in the path of a river so that water backs up behind this barrier.

• During summers, there is a lowering of water level in reservoirs as the rate of drainage is higher than that of recharge. This drawdown of water level does not take place in a lake.

• Reservoirs get larger quantities of soil and many other materials from rivers than lakes.

• However, because of a great water inflow, flushing of a reservoir also takes place that is not possible in the case of a lake.