Located in a narrow valley of the Snake River, 26 miles southwest of Valentine, Merritt Dam was completed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in May 1964. The dam is a homogenous, rolled-earth, filed structure, 108 feet high with a crest length of 3,222 feet. It is the first Bureau dam to have soil cement surfacing instead of traditional rock rip-rap protection. The only similar dam in Nebraska is the Calamus Dam completed in 1986 near Burwell. A facility of the Ainsworth Unit, Sandhills Division, Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Project, the dam is operated by the Ainsworth Irrigation District. The Game and Parks Commission administers the water surface and adjacent lands for recreation and wildlife. The reservoir has 44 miles of shoreline; 74,486 acre feet of storage, and a surface area of 2,906 acres. It irrigates approximately 34,539 acres of Nebraska farmland.