Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam Disposition Study


Congress directed the construction of Upper St. Anthony Falls (USAF) Lock and Dam project in 1963, as authorized by the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1937, to facilitate water borne commercial navigation. USAF is located at Mississippi River mile 853.9, in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The USAF dam design includes a horseshoe dam with a chord dam downstream of the horseshoe and a concrete overflow spillway owned by Xcel Energy Center. The Lock is 56 feet wide by 400 feet long. Congress ordered USAF to close to navigation June 9, 2015, under Section 2010 of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014.

Following the congressional direction to close USAF, the Corps initiated a disposition study. The disposition study will evaluate whether USAF should be deauthorized, and if the associated real property and government-owned improvements should undergo disposal. The study is authorized by Section 216 of the Flood Control Act of 1970 (33 U.S.C. § 426 et seq.) as amended.

Congress provided additional direction for the Section 216 study through the following:

  • Sections 168 and 225 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (WRDA 2018) directed the Corps to first complete a study for USAF and to examine an alternative in which the Corps retains operation and maintenance of the flood risk reduction features of the project, while making other portions of the project available for disposition and redevelopment.
  • Section 356 of the Water Resources Development Act of December 27, 2020 (WRDA 2020), directed that all, or substantially all, of the lands around the USAF lock be conveyed to the city of Minneapolis, and that additional licenses and easements be granted to the city for any lands and features that are not otherwise conveyed in fee.
  • WRDA 2020 required the city of Minneapolis submit a formal request for the lands they wish to be conveyed. The Corps released a revised draft disposition report on January 19, 2021, excluding from the disposition recommendation any properties that are to be conveyed to the city of Minneapolis.

Current Status:

In January 2021, a draft disposition study for USAF was published. Following release of the draft report, Congress directed the Corps, through the WRDA 2020, to convey excess lands adjacent to USAF, to the city of Minneapolis, or its designated entity. Owa’mniyomni Okho’dayapi (OO) is the city’s agent for the land conveyance.

Conveyance activities are paid for by the city. Conveyance activities began in June 2022. In December 2022, the Corps identifi­ed lands available for conveyance to the city and its agent, OO. Due to ongoing navigation authorization and operation and maintenance needs, excess lands would be subject to Corps reserved rights and does not include signifi­cant tracts of interest to the city.

As a result, the city wants to determine feasibility of modifying the existing structure and functions to meet their goal of restoring the site prior to any tract conveyance. OO has provided a conceptual site plan and submitted a 408 application to develop a constructable plan to turn current Corps lands at USAF into a park that “restores connections to Haha Wakpa, Dakota culture and language.” A 408 application allows the requesting entity to alter a Corps Civil Works project, provided the design changes will not be injurious to the public interest and will not impair the usefulness of the project.

The Corps has determined an outgrant for a period of 25 years is allowed based upon OO’s request. The special conditions ensure proposed modification activities will not impede the required Corps operation and maintenance activities onsite, will not increase expenses for federal government and will ensure compatibility with the other parties onsite.

A fi­nal disposition study report and recommendations will be prepared following receipt of federal funds. USAF has not been deauthorized by Congress. The Corps continues to maintain the USAF Lock and Dam to allow for potential navigation. The dam’s Tainter gates are also maintained and operated during spring melt to prevent structural damage.

The disposition study for Upper St. Anthony Falls, resumed in May 2019. A draft report recommending full disposal was made available for public comment in December 2020. A public meeting was held March 3, 2021. 

Comments on the draft report were due March 18, 2021. A redacted copy of comments received is available here. These comments will be addressed in the final report.

The Water Resources and Development Act of 2020 was signed into law December 27, 2020, and directed that lands at Upper St. Anthony Falls be conveyed to the city of Minneapolis or their designee, and that the federal government provide the city of Minneapolis or its designee licenses on the remaining property for a comprehensive recreational, touristic and interpretive experience. Excerpts from WRDA 2018 and 2020 are linked below:

Water Resources and Development Acts

WRDA 2018 Sec. 1168
Disposition of Projects

WRDA 2018 Sec. 1225
Upper Mississippi River Protection

WRDA Sec. 356
USAF Land Conveyance


The St. Paul District is working with the city of Minneapolis to identify and expedite the lands and licenses to be conveyed under WRDA 2020. The St. Paul District has begun Section 106 coordination required under the National Historic Preservation Act. The disposition study report and integrated Environmental Assessment for Upper St. Anthony Falls will be finalized following completion of these tasks. Federal property disposal is managed by the General Services Administration as governed by federal law.

Programmatic agreement among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul district, the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the city of Minneapolis regarding conveyance of federal property at the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam

Historical Documents


Upper St. Anthony Falls Study timeline

  • May 2019 – Restart Disposition Study focused on Upper St. Anthony Falls
  • Aug. 2019 – Sep. 2020 – prepare draft report and Environmental Assessment
  • Mid-Jan. – Mid-March 2021 – Public review of draft report and Environmental Assessment
  • TBD – Upper St. Anthony Falls Final Report

Information Papers

2019 Public Meeting Documents

2019 Public Meeting Materials

2021 Public Meeting Documents

2021 Public Meeting Materials

Contact us

St. Paul District logo

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Project Management
Minneapolis Locks Disposition
332 Minnesota St., Suite E1500
St. Paul, MN 55101