Dam and Lake Projects

The Omaha District operates and maintains 28 dam and lake projects. Most of these projects were built for the primary purpose of reducing the risk, or threats, from flooding to downstream populations and property in winter and spring seasons. Today, they help protect over 3 million residents. 

The projects also provide significant benefits to the region and the nation from both stored and released water. These include the critical generation of hydropower and water for irrigation and downstream uses. Diverse water-based and shoreline recreation for millions of visitors is available year-round.

The Missouri River Basin Balancer offers insight into the inland waterway of the Missouri River and its system of reservoirs, which are operated with a goal for serving each of the benefits, flood control, navigation, hydropower, irrigation, water supply, recreation, fish and wildlife, and water quality, for which the Mainstem reservoirs were authorized and constructed. Users can take charge of river operations and experience the unique challenges presented when managing reservoir operations in a variety of weather conditions across a geographically diverse basin.

Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! Prevent invasive species Water Safety Reserve a campsite at USACE campgrounds at Recreation.gov Purchase Navigation and Boating Maps from the Jefferson National Parks Association

Recent Dam and Lake News

High flows scheduled during annual maintenance at Cherry Creek Dam May 22: USACE urges public safety
Higher than normal flows of water through Cherry Creek Dam will begin this Wednesday, May 22, as part of annual sediment flushing by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District to help ensure...
Cherry Creek Dam and flood safety event to boost community awareness
4/22/2024 UPDATED
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, in collaboration with Denver-area flood risk management partners, will host a community event with displays, gadgets, gear, scientists, engineers and...
Army Corps of Engineers waives day use fees at recreation areas in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will waive day use fees at its more than 2,850 USACE-operated recreation areas nationwide in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 15...
Winter access policy set for Lakes Sakakawea, Audubon
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District Garrison Project has announced the 2023-2024 winter access policy for Lake Sakakawea and Lake Audubon...
Omaha District awards contract for phase four development of Lake Zorinsky maintenance corridor
10/16/2023 UPDATED
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District Contracting Division recently awarded a contract to Caliburnus Services LLC to create a maintenance corridor along the northern portion of the federal...

Garrison Dam, North Dakota

photoOutdoor enthusiasts enjoy the spillway near the Garrison Dam in Coleharbor, North Dakota.

Fort Randall Dam

An aerial view of Fort Randall Dam, Pickstown, South Dakota.

Salt Creek

Salt Creek Dam and Reservoir near Ashland, Nebraska.

History and Scope

Six dam and reservoir projects on the upper reaches of the Missouri River and many smaller project along Missouri River tributaries were built between 1932 and the early 1980s. Four of these rank among the top 10 largest reservoirs in the USACE inventory. Along with a system of federal and private levees, these dams reduce flood risks for urban and agricultural property and lives throughout the Missouri River watershed.  They also play a major role in supporting navigation on the Missouri River.

Three Omaha District dam and reservoir projects in the greater Denver, Colorado metropolitan area reduce flood risk to the lives and property along and near the South Platte River, Cherry Creek, and Bear Creek.

Learn a little more about the benefits of these projects by selecting a topic below. Find more detailed information about these dam and reservoir projects by visiting the web pages linked here to the left.

Flood Risk Management

The foremost goal of Omaha Districts’ Flood Risk Management mission is to reduce the loss of life and reduce property damage from flooding. While every year brings the possibility of a large flood, risks have decreased since the days when rivers overflowed their banks almost yearly, laying watery waste to whole communities.

While no one action, dam, levee, or agency can eliminate flood risks, Omaha District works to:

·         Improve public understanding of their risks from flooding and improve federal, state, and local agencies’ roles in reducing this risk.

·         Assist communities in developing local actions to further reduce flood risks. This can include non-structural actions, levees, floodwalls, gate closures, and drainage and floodplain improvements.

·         Encourage informed decision-making by governments, individuals, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations and provide technical information to support these decisions.


Dams provide significant benefits, but no dam is risk-free, and dams cannot eliminate flooding. For example, some flooding can occur even when a dam is properly working. More extreme, or abnormal circumstances can cause a dam to fail. This can impact people and their property.  Many people who live in an area that could be flooded by a dam release or failure are unaware of the potential impacts they could face. It is important to know if you are in a dam flood inundation zone, which can include areas up and downstream of a dam.

To learn about the USACE Dam Safety Program, visit https://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Dam-and-Levee-Safety/.

Learn more about the goals and roles of reducing flood risk: https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll11/id/6814

Explore the National Inventory of Dams to view flood inundation maps for many USACE dams and learn how these maps can help downstream communities prepare for a flood. This resource also provides brief video descriptions of how dams work to reduce flood risks. Learn where you live in relation to a dam and read about actions to reduce your risk from dam-related flooding. https://nid.sec.usace.army.mil/#/learn/dams101


The many dam and reservoir projects in Omaha District help make USACE the largest provider of water-based outdoor recreation in the nation.

Visitors of all ages can enjoy traditional activities like hiking, boating, fishing, camping, and hunting. For the slightly more adventurous, there is snorkeling, windsurfing, whitewater rafting, mountain biking and geo-caching. Regardless of your favorite outdoor activity one thing is certain, recreation enriches people's lives. A visit to a USACE recreation area offers unforgettable memories and connects people to nature.


Navigation on the Missouri River covers a distance of 734 miles, from Sioux City to its mouth at St. Louis. Approximately 140 docks and terminals operate along the river. USACE has the responsibility under Congressional authorization for the operation and maintenance of the Missouri River for navigation in coordination with flood risk management and other purposes. Navigation support includes flow regulation and bank protection through projects like the Missouri Riverbank Stabilization and Navigation Project which provides a 9-foot deep, 300-foot wide navigation channel.

The commercial navigation season is normally from late March to early December. Specific minimum flow rates are required during this season to provide adequate river depths and width. A flow of 30,000 to 35,000 cubic feet of water per second in generally maintained at Sioux City and Omaha. During insufficient natural flows, water is released from Omaha District’s upper Missouri River mainstem dams.


Many of Omaha District’s dam and reservoir projects also produce hydropower. Overall, USACE is the nation's largest single producer of hydroelectricity. Nationwide, it operates 75 hydropower projects, housing 349 generator units with a total capacity of 20.7 million kilowatts, or about 3.5 percent of the nation's total electric power production.