Higher Water Ahead


Flooding along the Missouri River has caused major damage this year in places like South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.
In Montana and North Dakota, reservoirs have been rising as the Corps of Engineers holds back water to ease the problems downstream.
But, as Jim Olson reports from Riverdale, that’s changing now.

(Jim Olson, KX News) “Get ready for more water. Whether you live along the Missouri River between Garrison Dam and Bismarck/Mandan, or if you’re around Lake Sakakawea, levels are going up.”

(Todd Lindquist, Garrison Dam Project Manager) “It’s going to be a higher-than-average water year both in elevations and releases.”

Todd Lindquist of the Corps of Engineers says after a spring of holding back water in the upper reaches of the Missouri River, the Garrison Dam is now increasing releases. But…

(Todd Lindquist, Garrison Dam Project Manager) “Overall those releases should have minimal impacts downstream.”

That’s because the current plan calls for the releases to max out at 46,000 CFS in about two weeks – and stay there through August. That’s higher than average – but well below the 60,000 CFS that caused a few problems in the Bismarck-Mandan area last summer.
One similarity to last year however is that the Corps will very likely use a few of the gates in the spillway again this year – because of some work being done on the dam’s intake structure.

(Todd Lindquist, Garrison Dam Project Manager) “We have contractors working in the intake structure so we will probably shift some of those releases over to the spillway.”

Meanwhile, the amount of water flowing into Lake Sakakawea due to mountain snowmelt is well over what’s being released – causing the lake level to rise quite a bit.

“Fishing’s going to be a little tougher – scattered all over.”

Fishermen I talked with say the rising lake level might make it harder to find fish.

(Brad Perkins, Minot) “The walleyes aren’t on the structures anymore because the structures are too deep.”
(David Horner, Bismarck) “How is fishing this year?” “Very good!” “What are you fishing for?” “Walleye.”

(Jim Olson, KX News) “Bottom line is the higher levels we’re expecting in the next month or so will not reach as high as they did last year. But that’s the current projection. You neven know what Mother Nature might bring in the next 30 days. At Garrison Dam, Jim Olson, KX News.”

The Corps estimates this year will end up producing the second-highest amount of runoff into the Missouri River system – lagging only behind 2011.
Last year had the fourth-highest runoff.

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