Lake Sakakawea benefits from Yellowstone River runoff

RIVERDALE, N.D. (KXNET) — After flooding in the Yellowstone River in mid-June, water levels in Lake Sakakawea are now going up.

Lake Sakakawea is about 6 feet higher right now due to runoff water from the Yellowstone River flooding in June. The lake is set to hit its peak for the most amount of water, on July 31.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been monitoring the water levels over the past month and the chief of technical support of the Garrison Project says levels aren’t expected to rise that much more.

“All the snowpack has dissipated in Montana. We’ve currently received all of it. And like I said, we were only supposed to come up another half a foot so there’s not much left to come from the mountain snowpack. Our mountain snowpack for this year was about 92% of normal,” said David Beck.

Even though the lake water levels have risen, the levels are still below average this year. However, there is another benefit to the extra water.

“All of our main ramps will be usable this summer. Which we weren’t looking at. At the beginning of the spring, we were looking at having to use a lot of our low water ramps, but our main ramps have become usable in the month of June due to the increased runoff coming from the Yellowstone River. Which has helped a lot on the recreational use on Lake Sakakawea,” said Beck.

It’s not just great for our enjoyment, maintaining water levels are important for the aquatic life in the lake.

“Typically for our forage food for the fish, our smelt, which is our bait fish that the walleye, salmon, and northern pike typically feed off of. We want Lake Sakakawea to stay above 1825 to maintain that coldwater habitat for them, which maintains a good fishery for the lake,” said Beck.

Overall, this is good news for the lake for you to enjoy for the rest of the summer and for the rest of the year.

Beck says the water elevation levels from this same this Fourth of July weekend are about the same as they were last year.