The Ruhrverband’s dam and reservoir system

The Ruhrverband operates eight dams and reservoirs, with a total storage volume of 463 million cubic metres. When referred to a single river region (i.e. the Ruhr Region), this is the largest multi-reservoir system in Germany. The reservoirs’ primary function is to provide water supplies to about five million people, while reducing peak flow rates. The dams and reservoirs of the Ruhrverband are supervised by the Reservoir Control Centre in Essen.

In addition to its eight masonry and embankment dams, the Ruhrverband is responsible for operating and maintaining 55 river gauging stations and 33 precipitation gauging stations, as well as hydraulic engineering for 14 hydropower stations conducted by its subsidiary, the company Lister- und Lennekraftwerke GmbH.

While dams and reservoirs are large structures, they are often not recognised as such in the landscapes they affect. Whereas the bulk of their technology is invisible to the eye, controlling them requires considerable know-how. The operation of dams and reservoirs is, to a large extent, a matter of technology. It must follow both economic considerations and meet specific safety and control requirements. Reservoirs store an enormous amount of potential energy. Therefore, they are subject to both public control and special scrutiny by the operator.

In addition to the technical aspects, legal and environmental factors, and above all, considerations on recreational use, also play an important role. As a result, the Ruhrverband’s dams and reservoirs are an integral part of the public services domain.