US Army Corps of Engineers
Rock Island District


Lake Odessa Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project

Rock Island District

Pools 17-18, Upper Mississippi River, Miles 435.0 - 440.0, Louisa County, Iowa, Congressional District: Iowa - 2


  • US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IADNR)


Lake Odessa is a 6,788 acre backwater complex located 15 miles south of Muscatine, Iowa, in Louisa County.  While Lake Odessa has traditionally had high fall duck and geese populations and significant duck production, the existing water control structures, high amount of seepage due to sandy soil, and overall complex size limit water level management with regard to draw down, excess water release, and fall reflooding. Breaches of existing levees have resulted in frequent losses of emergent aquatic vegetation used by migratory waterfowl. Sedimentation from frequent levee breaks and overtopping flood events has decreased the extent of deep water aquatic habitat. Fish winter kills and reduced circulation of well-oxygenated water are being experienced. The goals of the proposed project are to restore and protect wetland, terrestrial, and aquatic habitat.  The objectives identified to meet these goals were:  (1) reduce forest fragmentation; (2) increase bottomland hardwood diversity; (3) enhance migratory bird habitat; (4) restore native grasslands; (5) increase habitat for overwintering fish; (6) provide safe areas for developing fish; (7) protect habitat features; and (8) protect archaeological sites.

Quick Facts

  • Approximate Acres: 6,788 (Source: 2004 Fact Sheet)
  • State(s) Covered: Iowa
  • Land Ownership: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Management Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  • Management Authority: Refuge / Cooperative Agreement 


  • Restore the existing perimeter levee system that protects the Lake Odessa complex.  Efforts include appropriate levee heights and slopes, and a clay cap across to protect from overtopping events. 
  • Construct spillways to protect the levee during flood events.
  • Enhance water management capability at moist soil management areas through pump pads, portable pumps, water control structures, and placement of impervious material over sand lenses.
  • Dredge deep channels to enhance overwintering habitat for the fishery.
  • Plant hardwood trees.
  • Construct ephemeral wetlands.
  • Construct measures to protect archaeological sites.


  • The Definite Project Report was completed in 2005.
  •  The Stage I Contract (W912EK-06-C-0054) was awarded in 2006 and included the construction of a new spillway, enhancing the existing levee with pervious embankment, and construction of ephemeral wetlands.
  • The Stage IIA Contract (W912EK-07-C-0061) was awarded in 2007 and included hydraulic and mechanical dredging for overwintering habitat, construction of new water control structures, placement of riprap, and construction of articulated concrete mat pump pads.
  • The Stage IB Contract (W912EK-09-C-0099) was awarded in 2009 and included enhancing the top two feet of the perimeter levee with impervious material to allow for uniform overtopping during flood events.
  • The Stage IIB Contract (W912EK-10-C-0018) was awarded in 2009 and included mechanical dredging for overwintering habitat.
  • The tree planting contract (W912EK-10-D-004, Task Order 1) was awarded in 2010 and included planting over 1,000 trees on 403 acres for timber stand improvement.
  • The Lake Odessa 2013 Flood Recovery Project (W912EK-14-C-0080) was awarded in August 2014.  Work includes the construction of two new spillways and levee repairs.