The Missouri River at Omaha.

Western Iowans who are looking forward to boating season should be able to get out onto the Missouri River in a few weeks.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing the basin’s reservoirs for run-off season. Joel Knofczynski, a hydraulic engineer in the Corps’ Omaha office, says almost all of the flood pool is available behind the six, mainstem dams.

“On December 18th, the reservoir system storage reached 56.1-million acre feet, which is at the base of the annual flood control zone,” he says. “This means that all the stored 2016 flood waters have been evacuated from the system.”

Knofczynski says they will soon start releasing water from Gavins Point Dam for the downstream navigation season. “Releases from Gavins Point are currently 17,000 cubic feet per second,” he says. “Releases will be stepped up beginning at or around March 19th to provide flow support for the 2017 navigation season. The navigation season will open on April 1st at the mouth near St. Louis.”

Knofczynski says the Corps is anticipating a full, eight-month navigation season on the Missouri. “Flows for this level of service are designed to provide a nine-foot-deep navigation channel with Gavins Point releases expected to range from the upper 20,000 to the lower 30,000 cubic feet per second this summer, depending on downstream conditions” he says. “Those releases will be reduced in response to downstream flooding, if necessary.”

Corps officials have said -no- spring flooding is anticipated. Also, there will not be a spring “pulse” for endangered species habitat this year and run-off is expected to be about 115 percent of normal.

(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)