Canals are waterways channels, or artificial waterways, for water conveyance, or to service water transport vehicles. They may also help with irrigation. It can be thought of as an artificial version of a river.
In most cases, the engineered works will have a series of dams and locks that create reservoirs of low speed current flow. These reservoirs are referred to as slack water levels, often just called levels.
A canal is also known as a navigation when it parallels a river and shares part of its waters and drainage basin, and leverages its resources by building dams and locks to increase and lengthen its stretches of slack water levels while staying in its valley.
In contrast, a canal cuts across a drainage divide atop a ridge, generally requiring an external water source above the highest elevation.
Many canals have been built at elevations towering over valleys and other water ways crossing far below.
Canals with sources of water at a higher level can deliver water to a destination such as a city where water is needed. The Roman Empire's aqueducts were such water supply canals.