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Aerial image of Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam

Corps will conduct inspections of Orwell Dam

Published Oct. 29, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, will conduct a periodic inspection at its Orwell Dam, located on the Otter Tail River near Fergus Falls, Minnesota, Nov. 4-6.

These inspections involve engineers looking at a variety of aspects of the project to ensure the structure is sound and can safely perform when needed. These areas allows Corps officials to request and receive the necessary funds before a problem becomes a major issue. The last periodic inspections at this sites was completed in 2015.

Corps’ dams are carefully inspected every five years to allow engineers to gather performance information for the facilities that are used to schedule maintenance activities. Between these years, annual and frequent informal inspections are carried out by engineers and operations staff.

To safely complete the inspections, bulkheads will be used to shut off the spillway so that engineers can open and close the dam gates. This will cause some reduction of outflow and minor drop in the downstream river levels. River levels will gradually return to normal levels once the inspections are complete.

Owned and operated by the Corps of Engineers, the 67-year-old dam was constructed in 1953 with a height of 60 feet and a length of 1,344 feet at its crest.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Dam Safety Program uses a risk-informed approach to manage its portfolio of 694 dams, with public safety the number one priority. Critical to an effective safety program is the focus on public safety, but it also requires continuous and periodic project inspections and evaluations. The Dam Safety Program seeks to ensure that Corps owned and operated dams do not present unacceptable risks to people, property or the environment with the emphasis on people.

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Release no. 20-196