Heavy rains this spring have raised water levels on the Missouri River, but the Army Corps of Engineers says it’s nothing it can’t handle.
May runoff in the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City was 110% of normal. June rains increased flows on many tributaries. The above normal runoff in May is attributed to heavy rainfall in Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas.
Jody Farhat is chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management for the Northwestern Division for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
She says more rain will only worsen the situation.
“But, I think the concern is that the grounds are really saturated and any additional rain that we get will quickly move into the rivers and cause these stages to rise again,” Farhat tells Nebraska Radio Network in a telephone interview.
The system of six upstream reservoirs on the Missouri River has more than enough capacity to handle the additional runoff from the upper basin of the Missouri River. The water level on all the reservoirs is high at present and will remain high for the next month or so. Farhat says releases from the upstream dams have been reduced and will not have to be increased later in the summer or fall.
The problem is downstream.
A swollen Platte River and other tributaries have been dumping into the Missouri, causing minor to moderate flooding along the Missouri River, primarily from St. Joseph, Missouri south.
Farhat says, so far, the system of dams and levees is handling the excess water.
“We have the ability to deal with that type of rain and we have storage in the reservoirs,” Farhat says. “So, we’ll just manage the water that we have and as rains occur, we’ll just deal with it the best way that we can to reduce the flood risk downstream.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]