Releases from upstream dams on the Missouri River will drop this weekend, drop throughout the month of October, with the Missouri River perhaps within its banks in Nebraska by mid-to-late September.
US Army Corps of Engineers Brigadier General John McMahon announced today flows from the Gavins Point Dam, now at 160,000 cubic feet per second, will drop to 150,000 beginning this weekend. At mid-August, releases will drop by 5,000 cubic feet per second each day.
“So, we’re going to stair-step our way down from 150 down to 90 between the middle of August until the end of August,” McMahon said during a conference call today.
The Corps projects upstream flows from Gavins Point will drop to 90,000 by August 27th. McMahon said the Corps at that point will suspend the drop in releases for two weeks to inspect the levees along the Missouri, which he said were saturated from holding back floodwater this summer. The drawdown of releases would then resume, projected to drop to 40,000 by the first of October.
The drop in releases will allow floodwaters to recede. John Remus with the Corps predicted that the Missouri River might return to its banks at Sioux City by the end of August, at Omaha by mid-September and at Rulo by late September or early October.
“That release of 40,000 at Gavins Point with the planned pick up we should be below flood stage at almost all the gauges at that release rate,” according to Remus.
McMahon expressed concern about the levees, which he said had been acting more like dams than levees, since they have been forced to hold floodwaters back for months. McMahon said the drop in upstream releases will help the Corps restore the Missouri River flood control system and prepare for next season which begins March 1, 2012. He said the Corps doesn’t expect a repeat performance from the Missouri.
“The assessment is that what we have seen in 2011 is equivalent to a 1-in-500 year event, which means that there’s a very low probably of it recurring,” McMahon sated. “Now, that said, it doesn’t mean that it won’t recur two years in a row. I don’t want to discount that possibility, but it’s a very low probability.”
McMahon said the top priority of the Corps will be to get people back into their homes, farms and businesses so clean up and restoration can begin.
For full 2011 Floodwater Evacuation Plan click here.