Several of the Mississippi River lock and dam structures feature a secondary spillway. This helps regulate the pool height, and it encourages water to flow through the back channels during periods of high water. The secondary spillway for this dam was either recently constructed, or recently rebuilt. There are a series of notations on the nearside concrete wall that notes the water level for the various floods. The 1965 flood was the largest, with one crest of the 2001 flood being in second place. The US Army Corps Of Engineers notes that the lock and dam structures are not designed to perform flood control. Rather, they are strictly for navigation. They do not have pool space to store water, and every gallon of water that enters a lock and dam exits the lock and dam the same day.
In the shipping season of March 22 to November 28, 2006, exactly 8,478 vessels passed through Lock 5A, carrying 8,845,481 tons of cargo. This is according to the US Army Corps of Engineers. Of the 8,478 vessels, 944 were commercial, 7,461 were recreational, and 73 are listed as other (such as government owned craft).