The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still struggling with high water levels in Missouri River reservoirs and time is running out to get them down to winter storage stages.
John Remus, chief of the Corps’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Office in Omaha, says there’s been discussion all year on the congressionally-authorized purposes versus the operational priorities for the system.
“It is important to understand that authorized purposes and priorities are not the same thing,” Remus says. “While the system is authorized for eight purposes, the Corps’ priority is life and heath safety. In large run-off years such as 2018 and 2019, or during an extreme hydrologic event, the flood control purpose drives the Corps’ operational decisions for the system.”
Remus says water troubles have persisted much of the year.
“In 2019, Mother Nature has made managing run-off in the Missouri River basin very challenging,” Remus says. “People throughout the basin have been, and continue to be, directly impacted, some severely impacted. The Corps is well aware of the damage that this year’s flooding has caused and we are doing all we can to reduce the impact and assist in the recovery.”
Remus says each run-off year is different and calls for different responses.
“It’s important to understand that the volume, timing and location at which run-off enters the system significantly impacts the timing and amount of releases,” Remus says. “Each run-off season and flooding event is unique and care should be taken when comparing one event to another.”
The Corps will maintain releases from Gavins Point Dam at 80-thousand cubic feet per second through November before rapidly stepping them down by mid-December.
(Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)