In largely level terrain, the water harvesting structures are mainly crescent shaped earthen embankments or low, straight concrete and rubble “check dams” built across seasonally flooded gullies. Monsoon rains fill ponds behind the structures. Only the largest structures hold water year round; most dry up six months or less after the monsoons. Their main purpose, however, is not to hold surface water but to recharge the groundwater beneath. The advantages of water stored in the ground are many. It does not evaporate, but spreads out to recharge wells and provides moisture for vegetation over a wide area. In addition, it does not provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes like stagnant water collected in ponds or artificial lakes. The groundwater is also relatively protected from contamination by human and animal waste.