The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to hold a half-dozen public meetings in the Missouri River basin in the coming weeks to talk about its operating plans for 2013. Corps spokeswoman Monique Farmer says they want to hear from people who were affected by the Corps’ management of the Missouri River.

“It’s been a year that looked quite different than what we saw last year,” Farmer says. “The conditions changed and we’ve gone into some level of drought conservation. Looking forward, toward the spring of 2013, we see that we will be starting below the base of that annual flood control pool which will mean that we will likely reduce some levels of service.”

Long-range forecasts point to below-normal snowfall in the region for the winter ahead. Farmer says it looks like releases from Gavins Point Dam near Yankton will also be below-normal all winter. Releases during the winter months, December through February, will be at the minimum level of 12,000 cubic feet per second as a drought conservation measure.

Farmer says they are working with cities and power plants on several stretches of the Missouri River. “Right now, we are coordinating with municipalities downstream and folks who have industrial interests, to try and determine what areas caused the most problems for them with releases so we can keep an eye out and adjust releases as necessary throughout the winter to try and take heed of some of those areas of concern.”

Farmer says the draft operating plan will be released early next year. One of the meetings is scheduled for 11 A.M. on October 31st at the Stoney Creek Inn & Conference Center in Sioux City. Other meetings are planned in: Fort Peck, Montana; Bismarck, North Dakota; Pierre, South Dakota; and in St. Joseph and Columbia, Missouri.