Underground sources of water are usually dam alternatives. These sources of water are stored in aquifers which eventually flow to springs and seeps. These underground sources of water often deposit in locations which are then formed into oases or wetlands. One such American aquifer is the Ogallala Aquifer and is one of the largest in the world. It stretches across eight states including South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.
In the absence of an underground aquifer such as described by djstam, you could build above-ground (or below-ground, I guess) storage tanks; that would be vastly more expensive and would consume all manner of things from steel to paint to construction labor. Whether that would be “better” is arguable, but it is an alternative. Another alternative is to use water directly from rivers, rather than from dammed rivers; this is, of course, already done in many places. Without the reservoirs created by dams, both the quantity and other aspects of the water would obviously be inadequate for current demand.
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