The Corps of Engineers is watching the Missouri River after our recent rains, waiting for its level to fall enough so they can release more water from Gavins Point Dam to produce a spring “surge.” Spokesman Paul Johnston says it’s part of a plan to help wildlife recover after years of drought in the river basin.
Johnston says in the last few days the weather dropped two to three inches of rain into the Missouri Basin from South Dakota down into the middle of Missouri, and there was also a lot of rainfall draining into the tributaries that feed into the big river. With the water so high, he says right now they don’t want to send more water that could flood farm fields along the river.
Johnston says the pulse would be a “modest” nine-thousand cubic feet per second, raising the river by about two and-a-half feet at Sioux City and by about a foot in central Missouri.
The peak would last two days — rising to that 9-thousand cubic feet per second, remaining high for a couple more days and slowly decreasing the pulse till the river’s back at its normal flow in about a week and a half. Johnston says they plan on the release sometime before May 19th. The Corps is also waiting for the river’s water temperature to get to 61 degrees before releasing the extra water, which is intended to mimic the natural rise of a waterway in spring to encourage endangered birds and fish.