Releases into Missouri River to remain high, could go higher

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Gavins Point Dam


St. Joseph Post

Water releases into the Missouri River will stay high toward the end of the year with the possibility they could be increased before the end of the year.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced it will continue to pump 80,000 cubic feet of water per second from the Gavins Point Dam through mid-December. Previously, the Corps had hoped to cut releases by the end of this month.


Missouri River Basin Water Management Chief John Remus says the Corps is trying to handle excessive runoff from the upper Missouri River basin.


“Two thousand, nineteen continues to be a very wet year throughout the basin,” Remus tells a conference call hosted by the Corps. “This has led to excessive runoff into the reservoirs and into the unregulated streams below the system.”


Runoff this year has already exceeded the 1997 runoff, the second highest recorded runoff in 121 years of record keeping. Runoff in September alone was 16 times the long-term average. October runoff is expected to be three times the long-term average and could well set a record for October.


Reservoir Regulation Team Lead, Kevin Grode, says runoff this year is heading toward the highest runoff on record.


“If realized, the forecast for 2019 of 61.0 million-acre feet would equal the previous record runoff, which was established in 2011,” according to Grode.


Average flow from the six upstream reservoirs into the Missouri River at this time of year is 35,000 cfs. The Corps raised releases at Gavins Point Dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border to 70,000 cfs earlier in the year, then increased it to 80,000 to relieve pressure on the upstream reservoirs.


Remus says the Corps could even increase releases before the end of the year.


“We may have to go up,” Remus says of the releases. “We are doing everything we can to prevent that, but there’s always a chance that we may have to increase system releases and we just want people to know that. We have no plans to do that at this time, but that is a possibility.”