From time immemorial, human beings have settled in the fertile plains of major rivers like the Nile in Africa, Euphrates-Tigris in Mesopotamia, and the Indo-Gangetic plain in the Indian subcontinent. In these areas, floods and droughts had to be managed to reduce losses to human and cattle populations and also to limit economic damage. During the past two centuries, hundreds of millions of people lived around rivers, which necessitated control of these rivers to provide assured water supply for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes and to reduce flood and drought damages. Thus, the building of dams has gained steady momentum. More recently, after the 1930s, water requirements increased exponentially in countries where there was signifi cant immigration, such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada and the United States, to satisfy the needs of their expanding populations. Globally, with the passage of time, water control and assured availability of water of appropriate quality became essential requirements for continuing economic and social development.
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