The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is moving plenty of water through the Missouri River system, trying to make space for expected flood waters that will come in a few months with spring. Jody Farhat is chief of the Corp’s Water Management Division in Omaha.
“We’re nearly done evacuating over nine-million acre feet of floodwater that we stored last spring and summer,” Farhat says. “The system is ready for whatever Mother Nature sends our way. We have about 200,000 acre feet left to go, down from over nine-million acre feet, so we’re down towards the bottom.” Farhat says the Corps has tried to balance downstream flows against higher levels in the upstream reservoirs.
“When we operate the reservoir system, we always look at the impacts of our operation, both upstream and downstream,” Farhat says. “Flood control, the basic premise is you store the water upstream and then release it to the downstream areas at a rate that doesn’t cause any damage. We think we’ve been successful this year doing that.” Farhat says they are carefully monitoring the snow pack in the plains and up in the mountains of Montana and Wyoming, what will eventually run off into the Missouri River.
“Right now, the mountain snowpack is about 115% of normal on average and we are starting to see some good accumulations of snow on the plains,” Farhat says. “We’ll be monitoring that. It’s still early in the season. We have a couple of months to go before we know what we’ll be getting in terms of runoff next year.” Total run off into the river system this year was almost 39-million acre feet, the third highest level in 113 years of records.