How the Corps of Engineers uses dams to reduce flooding downstream

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 6:05 PM EST
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ goal is to reduce flooding instead of necessarily controlling it.

To do so, the Corps has constructed about 17 different reservoirs on the Ohio River system to try and reduce flooding. When the rains occur, they watch what’s happening downstream.

Engineers have gauges to monitor how high the water rises and how fast if flows. When the water is too high, they shut down the gates of the dams and then store all the water that flows into the reservoir.

By doing that, they can take a little bit of water out of the system and then reduce the peaks and crest of the rivers downstream. In some cases, they can reduce the water by 5 to 10 feet.

“By storing water in the dams themselves, we’re able to take if off a few feet off the crest to the local communities and thereby reduce the impact to the area,” said James Schray, a water management tech specialist with the Corps of Engineers.

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