Gavins Point Water Releases to Increase

Corps of Engineers Reports Record March Runoff in Northern Missouri River Basin

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intends to increase water releases at Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota next week. (Photo by Chris Clayton)

OMAHA (DTN) -- As rural communities in Nebraska and Iowa continue to battle floodwaters and continue recovery efforts, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is forecasting an increase in water releases at Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota.

In addition, in the next week the Corps has scheduled a number of public meetings across the Missouri River basin.

The Corps reported in a news release Wednesday that March runoff in the upper basin north of Sioux City, Iowa, hit a record 11 million acre feet. That surpassed the previous record of 7.3 million acre feet in 1952.

Currently, Gavins Point releases are at about 39,000 cubic feet per second. Releases are forecast to increase to 55,000 cfs early next week.

"Gavins Point releases will be above average for the next several months, and possibly as late as November," the Corps said in the news release.

The Corps said about 56% of flood control storage in the basin is available to store runoff this spring and summer. The Corps' calendar year runoff forecast is expected to be 151% of average.

"Some Plains snowpack still remains in areas of North Dakota and South Dakota," according to the news release.

In addition, the Corps said it is anticipating higher-than-average releases at Big Bend Dam in Fort Thompson, South Dakota, and Oahe Dam in Fort Pierre, South Dakota.

John Remus, chief of the Corps' Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, said those dams have to be prepared for additional runoff.

"We need to reduce pool levels in Oahe and Fort Randall over the next several weeks so that those reservoirs are in position to reduce flood risk during the spring and summer," he said. "The Fort Peck and Garrison reservoirs are well positioned to receive the runoff from the mountain snowmelt, which typically begins in May."

The Corps said mountain snowpack in the reach above Fort Peck Dam in Montana was at 97% of average and at 93% of average in the reach from Fort Peck to Garrison, as of April 1. The Corps said mountain snowpack normally peaks in mid-April.

"Much of the Plains snowpack in central North Dakota and eastern South Dakota has melted," the Corps said in a news release. "The heaviest snowpack remains in isolated areas of north-central South Dakota and south-central North Dakota where the snowpack's liquid content, or snow water equivalency ranges from 1 to 5 inches. Frost depth is still deep in much of the upper basin, including the areas with the remaining snowpack.

The Corps has scheduled six public meetings from April 9-11 to discuss basin operations.

On April 9 the Corps is slated to hold an 11 a.m. CDT meeting in Fort Peck, Montana, and a meeting at 6 p.m. CDT in Bismarck, North Dakota.

On April 10, a meeting is set for 10 a.m. CDT in Fort Pierre, South Dakota, and at 4 p.m. CDT in Sioux City, Iowa.

The Corps will wrap up the meetings on April 11, starting at 11 a.m. CDT in Smithville, Missouri, and then 5 p.m. CDT in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

More details on the meetings can be found here:…

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Todd Neeley