When a dam breaks, the area immediately around it floods, and whatever function the dam was serving ceases. Generally the area in danger is evacuated and then people start thinking about rebuilding the dam.
Dam failures are can be incredibly catastrophic. Because of the immense pressure behind a dam, once it begins to fail, the entire structure of the dam is compromised. This often to leads to the loss of lives and homes, the inundation of downstream areas. There are also biological considerations. Changing the amount of water in a system so drastically also changes its chemical composition, salinity and temperature. Wildlife may be unable to adjust or survive these new conditions. Dam failures can also lead to the release of toxic and even flammable substances into the water. Many areas rely on the presence of dams for hydropower, flood control, irrigation and fire fighting water as well as the recreational and drinking water benefits of reservoirs, all of which may become unavailable after a dam failure. Dam failures are often caused by large storms, earthquakes and age or presence of cracks in the dam.
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