Missouri River Dams

USACE built, and continues to operate, six large and important dam and reservoir projects on the mainstem of the upper Missouri River. These dams, in combination with dams on the river’s tributaries, reduce the risk of downstream flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. When not operating to reduce flood impacts, this “mainstem” system of dams is managed for hydropower generation, water supply, water quality, irrigation, fish and wildlife conservation, navigation, and recreation benefits. 

The River Basin Balancer Game offers insight into an inland waterway and a 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 many USACE reservoirs are 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

This graphic illustrates how the water storage capacity of the six upper Missouri River dams compares among that of other USACE reservoirs in the continental United States
Located near Yankton, S.D., at River Mile 811.1, Lewis & Clark Lake and Gavins Point Dam are nestled in the golden, chalkstone-lined valley of the Missouri River growing into one of the most popular recreation spots in the Great Plains.
Lake Francis Case and Fort Randall Dam are located within the rolling plain of the Missouri Plateau in southern central South Dakota, and bordered by rugged bluffs, broken by a complex of eroded canyons and ravines and has become one of the most popular recreation spots in the Great Plains.
Big Bend Dam is located near Chamberlain, S.D., at River Mile 987.4. Although, the dam has a unique bend in its embankement, Big Bend Dam takes its name from the unique bend in the Missouri River seven miles upstream from the dam. At this point in its course, the Missouri makes almost a complete loop, traveling 25 miles before returning to the "neck" where the land is only about one mile wide.
Oahe Dam is located near Pierre, S.D. at River Mile 1,072.3. The first of the power house’s seven 89,500-kilovolt generators was put into operation in March 1962. On August 17, 1962, President John F. Kennedy came to the dam and officially dedicated the two generators. The final generator went into operation in June 1963, completing the $340-million Oahe project. By 1966, Oahe Dam was generating over 2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.
Garrison Dam located in western North Dakota forms Lake Sakakawea, the third largest man-made lake in the United States. The lake is 178 miles long, has over 1,500 miles of shoreline, and its maximum depth is about 175 feet. Since its opening in 1960, Garrison Dam has provided the hydropower and flood control potential envisioned by Colonel Pick and others who directed its development.
Hydropower production at Fort Peck Dam in Montana was approved by the Fort Peck Power Act in 1938. Started in 1941, construction on the first power house was not completed until 1951 due to shortages of supplies and materials during World War II. A second power house was later added to tunnel #2. Construction on it began in 1958 and was completed in 1961. Today the two power houses average 1.1 billion kilowatt hours a year, or enough power to supply a town of 100,000 people.