US Army Corps of Engineers
Rock Island District Website

Sustainable Rivers









SRP Project Phases


The SRP process is a continuum of distinct phases for each project site.  ‘Advance’ is the first step that begins the process of research, fact finding, and stakeholder collaboration to determine opportunities for restoring environmental flows.


Implemention is the next phase that explores the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing environmental flows in the system.  The implement phase can continue indefinitely as we learn new information and refine our understanding.


The final SRP project phase is ‘Incorporate’ where environmental flows and other actions are incorporated into official documents and adopted as standard practices.

Rock Island District - Sustainable Rivers Program

The Sustainable Rivers Program (SRP) is a nation-wide partnership with The Nature Conservancy. The partnership works collaboratively among stakeholders and scientists to determine the environmental flow requirements for rivers to restore critical ecological function and habitat for aquatic-dependent species. Dams and reservoirs offer opportunities to influence the timing and magnitude of river flows to meet the needs of both human and natural communities. Efforts are focused on implementing environmental water management at Corps dams without compromising primary purposes, such as flood control. SRP Projects within the Rock Island District include Saylorville and Red Rock dams on the Des Moines River, Coralville dam on the Iowa River, and the Farm Creek dry reservoir in Illinois.  


Rock Island District Projects

Des Moines River - Incorporate Phase

Located along the Des Moines River in Iowa, the Saylorville dam is located directly upstream from the City of Des Moines, and Lake Red Rock dam is approximately 50 miles downstream.  The Corps dams provide flood risk reduction as well as recreation, water supply, drought management, and fish & wildlife management.

The Des Moines River Sustainable Rivers Project is designed to identify environmental flow requirements for the Des Moines River and implement alternative water management strategies that establishes more natural flow regimes and reservoir conditions for aquatic-dependent species. Since 2015, the Corps and Conservancy has collaborated with diverse stakeholders and hosted science workshops to determine ecological flow needs for the Des Moines River.  Several SRP measures have been incorporated into the Des Moines River Master Water Control Manual.  Those measures permit water managers and biologists the flexibility to adaptively manage the dams to meet the ecological needs of the Des Moines River.

SRP has expanded its influence within the Des Moines River watershed by focusing on environmental water management, restoring floodplain oxbows, and creating watershed conservation tools to identify practices that reduce sediment and nutrient loading into streams and lakes.  Please engage with us further on these topics by exploring the interactive story maps on the Des Moines River SRP link and the Watershed Resilience link.

The goal of the project is to manage for a more “naturalized” flow regime where possible and implement environmental flows for purposes that would benefit aquatic ecosystems. Restoring some aspects of the natural flow regime would be expected to benefit numerous species, including several ancient river fishes, such as paddlefish, shovelnose and lake sturgeon, as well as floodplain plant communities and terrestrial wildlife.

Iowa River - Advance Phase

Located along the Iowa River, the Coralville dam is located upstream from Iowa City.  Coralville dam provides primary benefits in flood control and low flow augmentation, and secondary benefits in recreation, fish and wildlife management, and forest management. 

The Iowa River was added to the Sustainable Rivers Program in 2020 as an emerging site.  The Iowa River Sustainable Rivers Project is designed to identify environmental flow requirements for the Iowa River and develop hypotheses for alternative water management that might establish more natural flow regimes and reservoir conditions that enhance multiple benefits.  The Corps and Conservancy conducted extensive stakeholder meetings to determine perceived opportunities and threats for the Iowa River.  A literature review and ecological river assessment has also been completed to support the early formulation of environmental flows.  A scientific workshop for the purpose of defining environmental flows and other water management actions is targeted for spring 2021.

The Coralville Dam Water Regulation Plan is in the process of being updated with the intent of further reducing flood risk on the Iowa River.  The process to update the Water Regulation Plan is an optimal time to consider adoption of environmental flow measures.

Farm Creek - Advance & Incorporate Phase

The Farm Creek Project is located on tributary streams to the Illinois Waterway upstream of Peoria, Illinois.  Farmdale is a dry flood control reservoir, only storing waters when the flow in the feeder streams exceeds the outlet capacity. 

Farmdale was added to the Sustainable Rivers Program in 2020 as an emerging site.  The goal of the project is to develop physical habitat improvements that leverage hydrologic events for the benefit of semiaquatic ecosystems.  The SRP team met with local and regional wildlife experts to develop specific guidance for implementing physical habitat improvements among a range of hydrologic conditions.  Small scale habitat features such as shallow pools and wetlands were created to attract reptiles and amphibians within the project boundaries.