Cold Springs Dam
The dam impounds the water of the Umatilla River to create Cold Springs Reservoir, a component of the Umatilla Basin Project of the United States Bureau of Reclamation. Dating from 1908, the first generation of the bureau's projects in the American west, the reservoir supplies irrigation water for local agriculture in this arid and seasonally-cold desert region. The nearby 1927 McKay Dam and McKay Reservoir are part of the same water management project.
The reservoir also overlays the Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1909.