Water levels on the Missouri River are gradually falling as releases from Gavins Point Dam near Yankton have been cut back in the past several days.
Dave Becker, operations manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Gavins Point, says it’s in response to high water and flooding in communities further south along the river basin.
“We cut our flows initially from 31,000 down to 29,000 cubic feet per second and now they’re down to 26,000 to help the folks out,” Becker says. “We just had some really heavy fall rains the last ten days downstream.” River levels have dropped about three feet below the dam. Becker says releases are being reduced upstream as well so more water will be retained in the reservoirs.
Becker says, “Our hydrologists really have to time the releases correctly between Fort Randall and us because it takes about a day for their water to get to us.” Becker says all of the extra water being held back may mean a longer navigation season from Sioux City downstream.
“Because we had a little wetter year than normal, we had about an additional 12% of water in the Missouri basin,” Becker says. “Our navigation season may even go a little beyond Thanksgiving.” Higher-than-normal releases may be needed later this year to draw down the reservoirs to winter levels.
(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)