The Reservoir

The mountainous region of a certain country had enjoyed optimal amounts of rain and snow for over 30 years. But hydrologists and meteorologists raised their concern that their predictive model of major weather trends, based on a historical cyclical pattern, had revealed trouble. It predicted that within five to ten more years, the rates of precipitation would ease significantly, and the area would fall into a drought.

They urged the local government to take steps to maintain a healthy level of available water for the population and recommended a mountain lake be converted into a reservoir using an earthfill dam. In response, the government approved a plan for such a reservoir that had been previously considered.

Nicole was hired as the chief monitoring scientist once a dam was in place. She was responsible for ensuring that the water in the reservoir rose to and remained at the target level.

Early on, Nicole noticed that the level was rising below the expected rate. The amount of melting snowpack in the surrounding watershed should have been filling the reservoir faster. Puzzled, she sent out exploratory teams to investigate. One team exploring the western slopes called in. “There have been rock slides up here,” the team lead told Nicole. “Pretty big ones.” He sent her some photos from his phone. The rock slides had altered the normal path of some streams coming out of the heights. The water was diverted higher up on the slopes such that it completely bypassed the dam. Workers were deployed to clear the larger blockages. Once they finished, Nicole kept an eye on the gauges over the next several days and became satisfied that the reservoir was filling as expected.

But she was unsure how much water had been lost and would never be regained.

Two years later, Nicole found that during a period of little rain over the summer, the water level was dropping faster than anticipated. Again, teams were sent out to search for possible causes; fortunately, no breach in the dam was apparent. Soon, the teams all reported that an invasive plant species had spread extensively along most of the shoreline whereas about the time the dam was built, it had barely started making an appearance in the area. These plants were known for absorbing  high amounts of water. Teams moved in to remove the plants. Once again, the reservoir resumed its anticipated fill rate. But again, Nicole worried that it would be that much harder to reach their target by the time a drought arrived.

Not long after, a worker reported a significant leak in the dam. Nicole notified her superiors immediately. An engineering team was dispatched to the site to repair the breach. Watching the water level readings, Nicole was astounded at the effect a little leak was having. But the hole was soon patched.

Nicole sat back in her chair when she received a report of the completed job and let out a relieved breath. It was hard work detecting and correcting the threats to the reservoir, but the vigilance of her team and the system that provided depth readings allowed them to stay on top of those problems.

Wondering, she ran some numbers. When she finished, she allowed herself a smile. If Nicole and her team kept up their quick responses to the obstacles that arose, they would still reach their target. The reservoir would outlast the drought that approached and allow the region to prosper.

Photo by Snapwire on

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2 thoughts on “The Reservoir

  1. armstrong258wp 23 February 2023 / 12:08 pm

    This is an excellent parable because the interpretation is not readily apparent. I assume the topic is repentance and righteous living, but there is probably more to it than that. I also thought of a parallel with Joseph in Egypt preparing for the famine. I look forward to reading the official interpretation. Thanks, Ben, for a challenging parable.


    • Ben Minson 23 February 2023 / 6:50 pm

      Thank you, David! If you think of any other interpretations in the meantime, I’d love for you to come back and comment.


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