Flood Management (Mill Creek Barrier Dam and Floodwall/Floodgates)

SMU is responsible for managing and operating the Mill Creek Barrier Dam, 14 floodgates and a 1.5 mile-long floodwall during high water conditions in the Ohio River.

The Barrier Dam and floodwall/floodgate system was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1948 to prevent rising water in the Ohio River and tributary flow in the Mill Creek from causing local flooding in the Mill Creek Valley. The barrier dam is located at the mouth of the Mill Creek just inland from the Ohio River. During normal conditions on the Ohio River, the Mill Creek flows into the Ohio River through an opening in the barrier dam. When the Ohio River approaches flood stage (52 feet), the opening is closed off using 14 metal bulkheads weighing 11,000 pounds apiece, put in place by a large crane. Large pumps inside the dam are then used to pump the flow of the Mill Creek through the dam to the Ohio River.

The floodwall extends east from the barrier dam for about 1.5 miles along Mehring Way to Linn Street. If needed, up to 14 floodgates can be installed at various street openings in the floodwall to prevent flooding of the valley.

The Barrier Dam is put into service when the Ohio River is predicted to reach flood stage of 52 ft. Normal Ohio River pool elevation is about 26 feet.  The barrier dam was built to protect against the 1937 flood level of 80 feet.   

Cincinnati Flood History

Barrier Dam
Barrier Dam

Pumps Inside Barrier Dam
Pumps Inside Barrier Dam

Flood Gate Installed
Flood Gate Installation

Flood Gate Installation
Flood Gate Installed

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(513) 557-3594

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(513) 244-1330

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1600 Gest St.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45204

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