The end of this year’s months-long flooding has begun.
The Army Corps of Engineers has started lowering releases from dams upstream on the Missouri River once again, after holding releases steady for three weeks. Releases from Gavins Point Dam reached 160,000 cubic feet per second at their height, a tremendous rush of water pouring into an already swollen Missouri River, spreading floodwaters all along the border of Nebraska and Iowa. Flooding ruined homes and business, buckled roadways and covered hundreds of thousands of acres of prime farmland.
Once record rain and snowpack drained into the six upstream reservoirs, the Corps began to slowly lower releases. On August 30th, the releases paused at 90,000 cfs. Corps officials explained that a three-week pause would more naturally ease pressure on the levees.
The Chief of the Readiness Branch at the Corps’ Omaha office, Kim Thomas, says that holding releases at 90,000 cfs allowed pressure on the Missouri River levees to stabilize, reducing under seepage and sand boils on the levees.
“At the start of the operational pause we still had a tremendous amount of boils going on and every day that we’ve held at this pause we’ve seen less and less of those boils,” Thomas says.
On Sunday, the Corps began dropping releases again.
Jody Farhat, Chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Office, says plans call for releases to drop by 5,000 cfs every other day until releases from Gavins Point drop to the more normal-level of 40,000 cfs, allowing the Missouri to recede back into its banks.