While some of the federal government is shut down, the agency managing the Missouri River continues to operate.
The Corps of Engineers is getting ready for spring runoff, after the third-highest runoff in history last year.
As Jim Olson reports, the Corps is at full strength as it deals with the ongoing high-water issues.
(Todd Lindquist, Garrison Dam Project Manager) “It’s been business as usual for us and we’re very fortunate to have a budget.”
Todd Lindquist is on the job – as are his colleagues at the Garrison Dam Project office in Riverdale because the Corps of Engineers was fully funded before the shutdown began. And it’s a good thing, because water managers are still trying to shuffle elevated water releases and reservoir levels after the huge runoff last year.
(Todd Lindquist, Garrison Dam Project Manager) “We’ve had the third-highest runoff year on record and were able to pass that with pretty minimal impacts considering the volume of water we saw on the system.”
Lake Sakakawea is supposed to be at 1837.5 feet as of February 28th – that’s two feet below where it stands today. So after dropping releases in recent weeks to allow good ice to form on the river downstream of the Garrison Dam, those releases are again ramping up. That will mean smoother ice below the surface.
(Todd Lindquist, Garrison Dam Project Manager) “We pretty much have a good ice cover now and just last week we started stepping up releases slowly, it smooths out the bottom of the ice in the channel – becomes a more effiecient channel, we can put a larger volume through it without breaking the ice up.”
(Jim Olson, KX News) “While the Corps of Engineers is not affected by the partial government shutdown, there are some areas here near the Garrison Dam that have been impacted. The National Fish Hatchery is closed.”
(Todd Lindquist, Garrison Dam Project Manager) “Several of the colleagues and people we work with have been furloughed so we have some impact from that, but the Corps of Engineers was fortunate to be fully funded and we’re fully operating business as usual.”
And that business includes continuing to manage the reservoirs on the Missouri to be ready in case there’s another major runoff year ahead in 2019. At the Garrison Dam, Jim Olson, KX News.
Lindquist says the Corps expects to have the three major reservoirs on the river to have full flood-control storage available by March First.