Water release increases at Garrison Dam, flood risk low

Rapid snow melt from the Rocky Mountains in Montana has made its way to the Missouri River.

In response, the Army Corps of Engineers increased water release from the Garrison Dam to 44,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) at the end of last week.

Although it is an increase, it’s nothing near the 150,000 CFS that was released back in 2011, going over the spillway and flooding surrounding areas.

However, the snow pack is well above normal this year, so the rapid runoff means it’s an exclusive flood control zone.

That’s why 44,000 CFS will be released for the next three weeks, and the corps is likely to maintain 40,000 CFS until August.

“To put it in perspective, if we didn’t have the dam in place right now with the inflows, we would see over 100,000 CFS going through the Bismarck Mandan region right now,” Todd Lindquist, Operations Project Manager for the US Army Corps of Engineers said. “So essentially the dam is doing what it was designed to do and were maintaining a much lower release through that reach.”

Lindquist said there’s really no concern for any downstream flooding, and that there’d have to be a pretty extreme rain event to change that.
In 2011, water was released at full capacity through the power plant, regulating tunnels and over the spillway.

Whereas now, water is only moving through the power plant and only about 3,000 CFS is coming through a regulating tunnel.

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