Water-Inflated Cofferdam for TV Show Curse of Oak Island

How Dikes, Levees, and Dams Differ

How Dikes, Levees, and Dams Differ

Dikes, dams, and levees are all critical players in flood prevention; however, these terms are not interchangeable. While the functions of these structures are similar, their differences are very distinct.

Let’s break it down.


Dikes are embankments that hold water on one side to control flooding. They’re mainly used to protect land that would be underwater otherwise.

Dikes were originally created to reclaim land from the sea. The most famous dike system in the world is located in the Netherlands, where ¼ of the country resides below sea level. 


Similar to dikes, levees are constructed to control the flow of ocean waves or prevent riverbanks from spilling over. They’re usually man-made within the earth and created to divert, contain, or control the flow of water and decrease flood risk.

Levees are built to keep water on one side in order to protect the land on the other side, making them critical when it comes to protecting low-lying cities. Unfortunately, extreme rainfall or melting snow can cause levees to breach and result in flooding (like Hurricane Katrina). 


Unlike levees, dams have water on both sides. These structures can be made by man or beaver and run across or through bodies of water. The main function of dams is to create barriers that will hold back and raise the water level.

When this level rises, it will in turn create a reservoir that can be used as a water supply or to generate electricity. The reservoir can also be used for industrial purposes, flood suppression, navigation, human consumption, and irrigation. 

Beaver dams are perfect for constraining and utilizing water flow across rivers and streams, but they can also disrupt the natural water flow in a state or federal wildlife management area. When this happens, you need to call in the professionals to safely deconstruct these dams and get the water flowing properly again.

At Stan’s Airboat & Marsh Excavator Service, we can easily access wet, swampy areas with our marsh excavators to build levees for hurricane protection. Our excavation contractors are highly professional and experienced in working in the most delicate terrains.

Whether you need dam removal, marsh excavation, or levee construction, we’ve got you covered. Contact Stan’s Airboat today! We can’t wait to assist you with your next project. 

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