The dam was constructed in a deep gorge in the Nallamala Hills in Kurnool district, 300 m (980 ft) above sea level. It is 512 m (1,680 ft) long, 269.748 m (885.00 ft) high and has 12 radial crest gates. It has a reservoir of 800 km2 (310 sq mi). The left bank power station houses 6 × 150 MW reversible Francis-pump turbines (for pumped-storage) and the right bank contains 7 × 110 MW Francis-turbine generators.
The Srisailam project began in 1960, initially as a power project, across the Krishna, near Srisailam in Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh. After several delays, the main dam was finally completed twenty years later in 1981. In the meantime the project was converted into a multipurpose facility with a generating capacity of 770 MW by its second stage which was expected to be completed in 1987. The dam is to provide water for an estimated 2,000 km2 (770 sq mi) with its catchment area of 206,040 km2 (79,552 sq mi) and water spread of 1,595 km2 (616 sq mi). Under the right branch canal 790 km2 (310 sq mi) in Kurnool and Kadapa districts will have assured irrigation. From the initial modest estimate of Rs.384.7 million for a power project the total cost of the multipurpose project was estimated to cross Rs.10 billion in its enlarged form. The 269.748 m (885 ft) high and 512 m (1,680 ft) wide dam has alone cost Rs.4.04 billion together with the installation of four generating sets of 110 MW each. The right branch canal is estimated to cost Rs.4.49 billion and the initial investment of Rs.1.4 billion has been provided by the World Bank. The projected cost-benefit ratio of the project has been worked out at 1:1.91 at 10% interest on capital outlay.. On 2 October 2009, Srisailam dam experienced a record inflow which threatened the dam. Project has an estimated capacity to hold 178.74 thousand million cubic feet.
At present the initial inflows into Srisailam reservoir are stored excessively without using for power generation. The flood water fills the remaining empty Srisailam reservoir quickly and most of the flood water overflows into downstream Nagarjunasagar reservoir without being used for power generation. The endeavor shall be to fill the Nagarjunasagar reservoir fully with the uniform water released through the power generating units.