A Journey Through the Major Dams on the Lower Colorado River

Lake Mead

This story map provides a tour of five major dams along the Lower Colorado River. Three of the dams (Hoover, Davis and Parker) are operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Hoover, Davis and Parker Dams provide for storage and annual delivery of 9.0 million acre-feet of water to users in Arizona, California, Nevada and Mexico. They also provide flood control, recreation areas, and more than 6.5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The Imperial Diversion Dam is operated by the Imperial Irrigation District, which diverts water into the All American Canal in California and the Gila Gravity Main Canal in Arizona. The fifth dam, Morelos, on the United States-Mexico International Boundary, is operated by the Mexican Section of International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC). It enables Mexico to divert water into the Mexicali Valley.

In the map to the right, the Lower Colorado River Basin is surrounded by a grey shaded region, with the Lower Colorado River running through it highlighted as a blue line. The five major dams on this tour are labeled along the river.

Click through the slides using the arrows below to find out more about the dams and related facilities and to see their locations on the interactive map. Pan, zoom, and change base maps directly in the interactive map. When available, real-time conditions at each dam are shown in their individual slides. The names labeling each dam on the overview map may also be clicked to go directly to a slide.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2015, Lower Colorado Dams Office: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/lcdo.html.

International Boundary and Water Commission, Colorado River Boundary Section: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.ibwc.state.gov/Water_Data/Colorado/Index.html.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam
Location Arizona-Nevada state line, 35 miles from Las Vegas
Lat/Long 36.0163, -114.7372
Date Built 1931–1936
Purpose Water storage and regulation, power generation, flood control, recreation
Reservoir Lake Mead
Maximum Water Surface Elevation 1,232 feet
Total Water Storage at Elevation28,945,000 acre-feet at 1,221.4 feet

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2012, Hoover Dam, General: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/projects/Facility.jsp?fac_Name=Hoover+Dam&groupName=General.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2012, Hoover Dam, Hydraulics & Hydrology: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/projects/Facility.jsp?fac_Name=Hoover+Dam&groupName=Hydraulics+%26+Hydrology.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2015, Lower Colorado Dams Office: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/lcdo.html.

Real-time data obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation at http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/hourly/hourly.html.

Real-time Lake Mead storage computed using capacity tables published by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation at http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/LM_AreaCapacityTables2009.pdf.

Davis Dam

Davis Dam
Location Arizona-Nevada state line, near Laughlin, Nevada and Bullhead City, Arizona, 67 miles downstream from Hoover Dam
Lat/Long 35.1967, -114.5683
Date Built 1942–1950
Purpose Regulation of water deliveries to Mexico, water storage, power generation, flood control, recreation
Reservoir Lake Mohave
Maximum Water Surface Elevation 647 feet
Total Water Storage at Elevation1.8 million acre-feet at 647 feet

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2009, Davis Dam, Overview: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/projects/Facility.jsp?fac_Name=Davis+Dam&groupName=Overview.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2009, Davis Dam, General: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/projects/Facility.jsp?fac_Name=Davis+Dam&groupName=General.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2009, Davis Dam, Hydraulics and Hydrology: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/projects/Facility.jsp?fac_Name=Davis+Dam&groupName=Hydraulics+%26+Hydrology.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2015, Lower Colorado Dams Office: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/lcdo.html.

Real-time data obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation at http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/hourly/hourly.html.

Parker Dam

Parker Dam
Location Arizona-California state line, 15 miles southeast of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, 83 miles downstream from Davis Dam
Lat/Long 34.2966, -114.1394
Date Built 1934–1938
Purpose Water regulation and storage for the Colorado River Aqueduct and the Central Arizona Project Aqueduct, flood control, power generation, recreation
Reservoir Lake Havasu
Maximum Water Surface Elevation 450 feet
Total Water Storage at Elevation646,200 acre-feet at 450 feet

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2009, Parker Dam, Overview: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/projects/Facility.jsp?fac_Name=Parker+Dam&groupName=Overview.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2009, Parker Dam, General: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/projects/Facility.jsp?fac_Name=Parker+Dam&groupName=General.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2009, Parker Dam, Hydraulics and Hydrology: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/projects/Facility.jsp?fac_Name=Parker+Dam&groupName=Hydraulics+%26+Hydrology.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2015, Lower Colorado Dams Office: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/lcdo.html.

Real-time data obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation at http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/hourly/hourly.html.

Imperial Diversion Dam

Imperial Diversion Dam
Location Arizona-California state line, 14 miles northeast of Yuma, Arizona, 153 miles downstream from Parker Dam
Lat/Long 32.8831, -114.4669
Date Built 1936–1938
Purpose Raise water level for delivery into All American Canal and Gila Canals, recreation
Reservoir Imperial Reservoir

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2009, Imperial Diversion Dam, Overview: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/projects/Facility.jsp?fac_Name=Imperial+Diversion+Dam&groupName=Overview.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2009, Imperial Diversion Dam, General: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/projects/Facility.jsp?fac_Name=Imperial+Diversion+Dam&groupName=General.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 2009, Imperial Diversion Dam, Contact Information: Accessed September 10, 2015, at http://www.usbr.gov/projects/Facility.jsp?fac_Name=Imperial+Diversion+Dam&groupName=Contact+Information.

Real-time data obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation at http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/hourly/hourly.html.

Morelos Diversion Dam

Morelos Diversion Dam
Location United States-Mexico international boundary, 3 miles west of Yuma, Arizona, 48 miles downstream from Imperial Dam
Lat/Long 32.7052, -114.7287
Date Built 1950
Purpose Diversion of water for irrigation in the Mexicali Valley, Mexico
Reservoir None

International Boundary and Water Commission, Colorado River Boundary Section: Accessed August 3, 2015, at http://www.ibwc.state.gov/Water_Data/Colorado/Index.html.