US Army Corps of Engineers
Rock Island District Website

District Projects

Saylorville Lake, Iowa

Published March 10, 2020

Saylorville Lake, Johnston, Iowa

Saylorville Lake Project including the Big Creek Remedial Works is a multi-purpose project providing primary benefits in flood control and secondary benefits in low-flow augmentation, recreation, environmental stewardship and water supply. Storage volume at full flood pool is 626,465 acre feet. The main dam is located about 8 miles northwest of Des Moines, Iowa, on the Des Moines River and became operational in 1977.


The project includes: Saylorville Dam with Control Tower, Pneumatic Crest Gate Spillway with discharge channel and the Big Creek Remedial Works which includes: Barrier Dam with Pump Station, Diversion Dam with Control Tower, Diversion Channel and Terminal Dam/Spillway. Cumulative damages prevented since project became operational is  $419,110,000 (2019 $). The project includes 25,515 acres of fee title lands and there are 30 recreation area sites. FY19 recreation fee receipt revenue was $786,846. Regional FY19 economic impact is $41,952,000 from an estimated 2,002,880 visitors.
Project is in operation.

Additional Information

Congressional Interest

Senators: Charles Grassley (IA), Joni Ernst (IA)

Representatives: IA-3 (Cynthia Axne), IA-4 (Steve King)
Flood Control Act of 1958

Summarized Project Costs

Estimated Federal Cost  N/A
Estimated Non-Federal Cost  N/A
Estimated Total Project Cost  N/A
Allocations Prior to FY 2020 N/A
FY 2020 Allocation $6,085,680
FY 2020 Total Capability $ 23,950,000


Major Work Item Current Year
FY 2020: Funds are being used for operation and maintenance of five flood control structures and related infrastructure; dam safety programs and activities; water supply contract administration and compliance; operation and maintenance of recreation areas & related infrastructure. These funds support management of the recreation program and providing a quality level of service to the public visiting recreation areas. Funds are also being used for environmental stewardship activities to protect the health, sustainability and integrity of the public lands associated with the project; & partnering with USFWS & other stakeholders for the Urban Wildlife Refuge downstream of the dam. Funds are also being used to complete work on the following non-routine items: Boundary line survey, maintenance & signage to prevent encroachments; modernize recreation infrastructure, Stilling Basin repair and Prairie Flower Sewage Lagoon rehabilitation. 

Additional funding could also be used for Completing Plans and Constructing Energy Efficient Office and Maintenance Building, Shoreline Erosion Protection near FRM Structures, Replace Fishing Pier at Cottonwood Recreation Area, Neal Smith Trail Fog Seal, Environmental Stewardship Activities and additional priority infrastructure projects.