Corps Keeps River Releases In "Normal" Range For Now
The Missouri River is going from one extreme to another.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is now reducing the flow out of the last main stem dam on the Mighty Mo. The Corps is cutting releases at Gavins Point from 18-thousand cubic feet per second to 14-thousand c.f.s. But, Corps officials say this is still within the normal range of winter releases.
Corps spokesperson Monique Farmer says officials wanted to drop the releases sooner to maintain more storage in upstream dams but downstream municipalities expressed water shortage concerns.
Farmer says the Corps is running at low end of the normal release levels.
“National Weather Service is telling us right now to expect conditions to remain dry at least through this spring and so that’s one of the reasons why we’re taking actions to try and conserve water in our system,” says Farmer.
Some critics have argued the Army Corps of Engineers operating plans are not designed to adequately deal with extremes of drought and flooding.
An SDPB look at the past water levels on the Missouri River shows the Corps is maintaining about the same amount of water below Oahe Dam at Pierre right now, during the drought, as they were in January of 2011 before major flooding.
A corps spokesperson says the agency is maintaining releases within the normal range at this point but more drought conservation measures may be implemented soon.
Here is the United States Geological Survey's record for Missouri River water level in Pierre between December, 15th 2010 to early January of 2011 prior to record flooding later that year.
Here is the water level for the same time period at the same location currently.