The tower will enable temperature-controlled water releases from the dam to help salmon. The US$52M structure will allow USACE to correct the water temperatures that were thrown out of balance when the dam was built in 1963. The new intake towers rely on moveable gates that can take in water of various depths in the reservoir prior to releasing it into the river.

Cougar dam, a 132m-high rockfill structure, providing flood control on the South Fork McKenzie river, impounds 270Mm3 of water. The power plants at the dam have an installed capacity of 25MW.