Dams on the Mississippi

Old Log Slide at High Falls Dam

Water Control has a long history along the Mississippi River

Water control structures were first constructed on the Mississippi River and its tributaries in the mid 1800s, predominantly for timber or grist mill purposes. Around the turn of the century many of these structures fell apart as timber became scarce. Between 1910 and 1920, hydro generation became the mainstay of water control structure developments as several plants were constructed and many other dams were built to use as water supply for those dams. From approximately 1950 to 1965, development in the form of cottages boomed and again changed the nature of the operation of the water control structures within the watershed.

In 1968 Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) was born, with its primary mandate to reduce/prevent flood damages and loss of life through flood forecasting and warning, plan input and development controls and, over time, the operation of existing water control structures throughout the watershed.

Currently there is in excess of 30 water control structures in operation on the main Mississippi River and its tributaries, with remnants of another 20 or so still visible. Of those 30 dams, MVCA owns and/or operates 17 of them. There are currently five hydro generation structures on the Mississippi River, which are the only dams on the main river which MVCA does operate.

MVCA has developed operating guidelines for all its structures to ensure the most effective and coordinated operation of the structures as a whole is achieved.

Water control structures currently owned and operated by MVCA include:

Water control structures owned by the Ministry of Natural Resources and operated by MVCA include:

Water control structures owned by Ontario Power Generation and stoplog operations undertaken by MVCA include:

Other generating stations on the Mississippi River which are run-of-the-river type structures (they generate power based on whatever flows exist in the river and do not have a substantial reservoir to augment those flows) and MVCA has no involvement with include:

MVCA also owns and maintains additional flood and erosion control structures including:

  • Carp River Channelization Works
  • MacLarens Landing Slope Stabilization Works
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