The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is operating the Missouri River reservoir system in drought conservation mode and doesn’t expect much to change for at least a few months. Despite plentiful rainfall this spring, Corps engineer Kevin Stom says runoff in the region continues to be very low.
“Although precipitation in April was well above normal in much of the upper Missouri River basin, observed April runoff was 78% of normal,” Stom says. “This is due to the large soil moisture deficits in the upper basin from the 2012 drought.” Jody Farhat, head of the water control division for the Omaha Corps office, says water-saving efforts are underway.
“We’re implementing measures to conserve water in the main stem reservoir system this year, including reduced service to navigation,” Farhat says. “Flow support for the second half of the navigation season and the season length will be determined by the volume of water in the reservoir system on July first.” Farhat says the Corps may have to take further steps if the dry conditions persist.
Farhat says, “Other potential conservation measures that may be implemented this summer include not supporting navigation targets in the regions without commercial navigation, use of the Kansas basin reservoirs for navigation support and cycling Gavins Point releases during endangered species nesting season.”
The Corps reports the runoff forecast in the region north of Sioux City is well below where it should be. It’s gauged at 20-million acre feet, which is 79-percent of normal.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton