The Miami Conservancy District (MCD) flood protection system is ingeniously simple. The drainage patterns of the entire Great Miami River Watershed are incorporated into its design. The dams and levees operate without human intervention and have no moving parts, except floodgates on storm sewers along the levees.
MCD's flood-protection system was the first of its kind. It was designed to use five dry dams, meaning the dams are used only to hold back floodwaters after heavy rainfall. The remainder of the time, the land behind the dams 35,650 acres is used predominantly for parkland and farmland.
The levees and modified river channels in the 11 cities along the river work with the dams as part of the flood protection system. The levees and channels are designed to carry the flows released by the dams, keeping floodwaters out of the cities.
The MCD flood protection system also utilizes floodplains along the rivers, allowing room for the floodwater flow. Many floodplain areas are preserved so development does not encroach into the floodplain, causing the water to flow faster or deeper.