Flood Control Sites (MN): Lake Traverse, Orwell Lake, Red Lake, Big Stone - Highway 75 Dam, Lac qui Parle

U. S. Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published Feb. 27, 2015
Updated: April 15, 2024


Minnesota flood control sites include flood risk management, recreation and environmental stewardship business line functions. Each have public use facilities for shore fishing, picnicking, bird watching and other activities. The land is actively managed for habitat enhancement.


Lake Traverse is on the Minnesota and South Dakota border between Browns Valley, Minnesota, and Wahpeton, North Dakota/Breckenridge, Minnesota. It consists of two dams, two reservoirs and the Browns Valley Dike.

Orwell Lake on the Otter Tail River is approximately

6 miles southwest of Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It consists of an earthen embankment, outlying dikes and a gated service spillway.

Highway 75 Dam is on the upper Minnesota River near Odessa, Minnesota. It impounds the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge.

Lac Qui Parle is on the Minnesota River near Montevideo, Minnesota. It consists of three dams, a diversion channel and several embankments and levees.

Red Lake Dam located at the outlet of Lower Red Lake in northeastern Clearwater County, Minnesota. It consists of an earthen embankment, a concrete weir with three lift gates and two stop log bays.


Flood risk management, recreation and environmental stewardship activities are completed by Corps staff at Lake Traverse, Orwell Lake and Lac Qui Parle. These sites also support readiness (emergency) response activities in the Minnesota and Red River basins. Water control activities have a direct impact on flood response in the downstream communities. Low flows are managed for fish and wildlife purposes and for water supply for communities on the Red River of the North. Red Lake Project activities are completed by Corps staff at Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Since their construction, the reservoirs have prevented combined flood damages of over $5,275,000,000.


A $5,700,000 construction contract, awarded in 2020 for dam modification and equipment refurbishment of Lac Qui Parle Dam, was completed in 2023. An architectural engineering contract was awarded in fiscal year 2022 to develop plans and specifications for repair of the emergency spillway at the Lac Qui Parle Dam, which was damaged from high flows in 2019.

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funds will be used to award a construction contract in 2024. Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will support plans and specifications for dewatering, maintenance, and emergency power source replacement at Orwell Dam, concrete and mechanical repairs at Lake Traverse, and concrete, electrical, mechanical repairs, sediment removal and gate painting at Lac Qui Parle in fiscal year 2023; and construction in fiscal year 2024.

Recreation funds in the amount of $75,000 were originally cut from the Fiscal Year 2023 President’s Budget. Due to the potential impacts of reduced public recreation services, Corps Headquarters distributed this same amount in the Fiscal Year 2022 America the Beautiful Pass funding for carryover and use in fiscal year 2023. The Corps requested $178,000 in the Fiscal Year 2024 President’s Budget.


Lake Traverse by PL 74‒738. Orwell Lake by PL 81‒516, 78‒534, 85‒624 and 81‒516. Red Lake by PL 78‒534. Big Stone – Whetstone by PL 89‒296. Lac Qui Parle by PL 74‒738.


FY 2023                                           O&M $ 3,186,810

                                                           BIL $7,578,000

FY 2024                                        O&M - $ 3,3174,90

                                                          BIL - $1,500,000