Nebraska farmers, ranchers and residents living in the Missouri River basin need to prepare for high water for the rest of the year.
Kevin Grode, chief of the Water Management Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says this will be a near-record year for runoff in the basin.
“We’re projecting this to be the fourth or the fifth largest runoff year in 120 years worth of records, so this is definitely in the top ten and maybe even in the top five,” Grode says. “With that, there comes challenges. That’s a lot of water that we have to manage.”
Officials with the Corps’ Omaha Office recently finished a tour of the Missouri River reservoir system from Montana to South Dakota. Grode says there will be high water below all the dams into the fall.
“The basin needs to be prepared for higher-than-average releases for the next five months,” Grode says. “We need to evacuate most of that flood control storage space by December. We can evacuate a little bit during the winter months but not much. Most of it has to come during the summer and fall.”
Normally, the Corps must balance several competing interests to operate the system, but Grode says there is one focus this year.
“We do have a lot of constraints this year because of the high run-off year,” Grode says. “Our constraints have been lessened, mostly because we’ve been focusing on flood control. It’s just one of those years where most of our concentration is on capturing that run-off and now evacuating that.”
Grode says the Fort Peck Reservoir in Montana has about 15 feet of excess water to move downstream and it’s only dropping about an inch a day.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton