Dam Safety Program: Minnesota

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published April 9, 2024


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Dam Safety Program can be traced to the National Dam Inspection Act of 1972 (Public Law 92-367).  This has been updated numerous times, including the National Dam Safety Program Act of 2020 (PL 116-260) and is found in 33 USC 467. Most elements of the program still closely abide by the Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety (1979), with the most notable development in the last decade related to risk assessments to better prioritize actions and communicate the safety status of dams. The overlying purpose of dam safety is to ensure the integrity and viability of dams such that they do not present unacceptable risks to the public, property and the environment.


The cornerstone of the Dam Safety Program revolves around inspections and risk assessments. Inspections include a routine program of surveillance and monitoring that includes soundings, surveys, special instrumentation, diving, and camera inspections. Most dams owned and operated by the Corps have been inspected on 5-year intervals, although new guidance will be transitioning to 10-year intervals for low hazard dams. Low hazard dams in Minnesota include Sandy, Gull, Reservation, Watson Sag, and Highway 75. The inspections and risk assessments inform and help prioritize repair and rehabilitation needs.


Sandy Lake and Lac qui Parle dams finished rehabilitation projects in 2023 that included new spillway gates and other related upgrades. Lac qui Parle and Traverse projects, and Orwell and Winnibigoshish Dams, received Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding in fiscal years 2022 and 2023 for repairs and maintenance needs. Funding requests we be submitted in fiscal year 2026 for rehabilitation at Pokegama, Leech and Gull Lake Dams.

Dams in St. Paul District Portfolio

Federally authorized, operated and maintained:

Mississippi Headwaters – Leech Lake, Winnibigoshish, Pokegama, Pine River (Cross Lake), Gull Lake, and Sandy Lake.

Orwell Dam

Lac qui Parle Project – Lac qui Parle Dam, Marsh Lake Dam, Chippewa Diversion, and Watson Sag Weir.

Big Stone Project – Highway 75 Dam

Traverse Project – White Rock Dam, Reservation Dam, Browns Valley Dike

Mississippi River – Upper St. Anthony Falls, Lower St. Anthony Falls, Locks and Dams 1 (Minneapolis), 2 (Hastings), 3 (Red Wing), 5 (Winona), and 7 (LaCrescent).

Also see the National Inventory of Dams for more information at: