Water Management

Detroit reflection--a historical photoThe Corps plays a major role in a coordinated and complex system to reduce flood risks and provide water for hydropower generation, fish and wildlife enhancement, navigation, recreation and other uses. Portland District's primary water management mission is to save lives and reduce property damage by reducing flood risks with measures both structural (such as dams) and non-structural (such as improving the natural function of floodplains).

No combination of actions can prevent floods and no single agency can manage them.



(Click here or on the photo to see a larger version.)

Contact information

Phone: 503-808-4510


Rain and snow: it all goes downhill

Flooding typically occurs when runoff from rain and snowmelt flows over riverbanks and onto floodplains. Heavy or continuous rain west of the Cascade mountain range generates the greatest amount of runoff from November through March. Snowmelt runoff east of the Cascades is typically the cause of flooding from May through July. The potential for damage from these floods increases in the densely populated and highly developed areas in or near the Columbia River’s floodplain, such as Salem and Portland in Oregon and Vancouver, Wash. The Corps’ reservoirs capture vast quantities of water and wetlands absorb floodwaters to take the peak off many floods. Watch this video to learn more about how dams work to manage water.

Photo of two kids filling sandbags on a sunny day.Through collaborative action with other federal, state and local agencies, however, risks to public safety from floods and the damage they cause are reduced significantly. Many agencies, including the Corps, assist communities with non-structural measures that help reduce floods and their consequences, such as establishing flood response plans and considering land development plans to reduce flood risks and hazards.

The actions of property owners, residents and businesses can reduce flood risks even more and improve response and recovery actions should a flood occur.

Be prepared

This one-stop shopping website provides the information and resources for Oregon residents to improve individual and community responses to a flood and reduce risk to people and property. The information also is helpful for other natural disasters and emergencies.