Nov 25, 2019 12:00 PM

Missouri River worries remain even as Gavins Point releases drop

Posted Nov 25, 2019 12:00 PM

Gavins Point Dam


St. Joseph Post

An official with the US Army Corps of Engineers says though the Corps is reducing water releases from Gavins Point Dam early, the move is mostly neutral in its efforts to prevent flooding next spring.

The Corps began reducing release from Gavins Point this past weekend and should bring them down from 80,000 cubic feet per second to 54,000 cfs by December 6th.

Missouri River Basin Water Management Chief John Remus notes the Corps had planned to keep releases at 80,000 cfs through the end of the month.

“We are starting a little bit earlier than we had planned, because the reservoir immediately upstream from Gavins Point, that’s Fort Randall, is drawing down a little too quickly, which could lead to some municipal water intakes drying up if we were to overdraft that reservoir,” Remus tells St. Joseph Post. “So, we’re cutting releases to kind of manage that pool upstream.”

Upstream runoff remains high, but has dropped below what the Corps forecast at the beginning of the month.

Releases from Gavins Point dropped to 75,000 cfs Saturday and should lower to 70,000 cfs Wednesday, reaching 60,000 cfs the next week on the way to 54,000. The Corps anticipates lowering the releases from Gavins Point to 22,000 cfs this winter, which would be 5,000 cfs higher than normal winter releases.

Remus says the Corps plans to be aggressive in preparing for next spring with the aim of preventing a recurrence of the widespread and destructive flooding of this year.

“We’re a little bit ahead of our drawdown schedule now,” according to Remus. “So, we should have all of the flood control storage available next spring to capture and, hopefully, manage the 2020 runoff in the upper basin.”

Remus cautions against thinking runoff has dropped off much.

“We’re still going to have above average runoff for the month of November and probably for the month of December,” Remus says. “It’s just not going to be as much above average as we had anticipated.”

Though runoff upstream on the Missouri River has eased up a bit, they remain high for this time of year.

“It’s just not going to be as much as we had forecast, but it’s going to be more than we would normally see.”

Remus says the Corps will be aggressive in dropping the levels of the six reservoirs upstream on the Missouri River in an effort to prepare for spring.