Flood Protection System


Whatever the problems of the Miami Valley and its people will be in the future, floods will not be one of them. But I hope the lessons learned in those harrowing days of the flood itself and in the years which followed will never be forgotten. For they teach far more than how to bridle angry waters... they provide at least one example of what men and women can accomplish when they work together with unconquerable spirit toward a common goal. - Edward A. Deeds, The Miami Conservancy District Board of Directors, 1915-1954


The Miami Conservancy District flood protection system is ingeniously simple. The drainage patterns of the entire Great Miami River Watershed are incorporated into its design. The dams and levees operate without human intervention and have no moving parts, except floodgates on storm sewers along the levees. 

The system includes:


The flood protection system was the first of its kind. The system includes five dry dams. They are called dry because the dams are used only to store floodwaters after heavy rainfall. The remainder of the time, the storage land upstream of each dam – 35,650 acres – is used predominantly for parkland and farmland.

The levees and improved river channels in the 11 cities along the river work together with the dams to protect downstream cities from floodwaters. The levees and channels are designed to carry the flows released by the dams, keeping floodwaters out of the cities.

The flood protection system also utilizes floodplains along the rivers, allowing room for the floodwater flow. Many floodplain areas are preserved so development does not encroach into the floodplain, causing the water to flow faster or deeper.

Throughout the Great Miami River Watershed, the integrated flood protection system protects 22 cities, 5 counties, and 18 townships, and provides multiple benefits. 

Learn more about MCD History and view historical construction photos of the system.