US Army Corps of Engineers
Hydrologic Engineering Center

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Ohio River, PA, OH, WV, KY, IN & IL - Collaborating for environmental outcomes

On the Ohio River, USACE maintains a series of locks and dams extending from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, downstream to the river’s junction with the Mississippi – nearly one-thousand river miles. USACE, The Nature Conservancy, and other partners, including non-governmental organizations and state agencies, are working together to identify ways to improve environmental conditions on the river.

Image displaying a map of the Ohio River above the profile of the Ohio River Navigation System

Ohio River System Profile - A profile of the Ohio River Navigation System, which extends 981 miles – from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cairo, Illinois – and includes 19 lock and dam systems.
Photo of a double rainbow centered around the Belleville Lock and Dam

Belleville Lock and Dam - Panoramic view of Belleville Lock and Dam, which is located 204 miles downstream of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USACE photo).
Aerial image of the Robert C. Byrd Lock and Dam

Byrd Lock and Dam - At the Robert C. Byrd Lock and Dam in West Virginia, USACE has changed gate operations to push clean, oxygenated flow over mussel beds (USACE photo).
Close-up image of a freshwater mussel sitting on a rock

Freshwater Mussels - Now a federally endangered species, pink mucket mussels were once common in the Ohio River. USACE is managing dams and dredging activities differently in order to restore mussels (photo by Craig Stilher, USFWS).
Image of Williamson Island taken across the Ohio River

Island Habitats - Williamson Island is one of 22 islands in the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge. USACE is looking to lessen erosion of islands with strategic placement of dredged material from lock and dam maintenance (photo by Michael Schramm, USFWS).

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The Ohio River begins at the junction of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers at Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh. For the next 981 river miles, USACE maintains 19 locks and dams on the Ohio that extend all the way to its confluence with the Mississippi River in Cairo, Illinois.

These locks enable barges to move commodities of all sorts up and down the river. The Ohio River Navigation System also experiences extensive recreational traffic from kayakers, pleasure boats, and even tour boats.

USACE maintains a nine-foot minimum depth throughout the channel. Unfortunately, the high levels necessary to maintain navigation have led to erosion of the river’s banks and islands. Locks and dams also trap sediment, a key ingredient in renewing shorelines along the river.   Read More

  • USACE Huntington District
  • USACE Louisville District
  • USACE Pittsburgh District
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Ohio River Valley Sanitary Commission (ORSANCO)
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