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Army engineers: Drought will expand in lower Missouri basin, persist elsewhere

Pipeline between Beresford and Sioux Center
Troy Larson
The Missouri River as it flows near Pierre.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials say drought conditions will likely expand throughout the lower Missouri River Basin.

John Remus oversees management of the Missouri River basin. He said water levels in the system peaked on July 20 and are expected to decline in future months.

U.S. Drought Monitor
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
The August drought outlook shows drought conditions persisting in South Dakota, while expanding in Iowa and Nebraska.

“We are still in a drought, and we are still in water conservation mode based on the amount of water we have in storage,” Remus said.

Army engineers manage the quantity of water released at dams along the Missouri River. To conserve water, the Corps has been minimizing the amount released for transportation.

“The slight increase in the annual runoff forecast is mostly due to higher-than-forecast July runoff in all reaches above Sioux City, Iowa,” said Army Engineer Ryan Larson. “The remaining months in the calendar year are forecasted to be below average as drought conditions persist over portions of the basin.”

Larson said climate forecasts show low precipitation and high temperatures for future months.

The Corps of Engineers is working to curb the negative impacts of drought conditions. Teams have worked to protect exposed shorelines against invasive species and maintain boat ramps, including those located at the Oahe reservoir in Pierre.

This is the third year of drought in the Missouri River Basin.

Slater Dixon is a junior at Augustana University studying Government and Data Science. He was born in Sioux Falls and is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.
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