With all the rain in recent weeks across the Midwest and Northern Plains, water levels are rising along the Missouri River basin — and the water will likely remain high through fall.
Dave Becker, operations manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Gavins Point Dam, says they’re having to increase the releases from the dam near Yankton. “Our runoff here above Sioux City has gone now up to 141% of normal, so the upper reservoirs are really storing quite a bit of water and we need to evacuate that this fall while we can,” Becker says. “Our flows are steadily being increased.”
Becker says the high water levels will likely continue for a few months. “Releases are expected to be up there through the fall, probably until about Thanksgiving,” he says. “They have extended the length of the navigation season which normally stops a little before Thanksgiving so they’ve extended that a little bit.”
Repair work is still underway on several of the spillway gates at Gavins Point Dam. Becker says they can use the spillway and continue the repairs. “Right now, we’re using five gates and we may go up to as many as using eight gates for these releases,” he says. “Even though we have four gates being worked on, we have plenty of gates we can use to release the excess water.” The river has risen about two feet at the gauge on the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, but it’s still well below flood stage.
Releases from all the main stem dams are being increased to move the water before winter arrives.