OMAHA, Neb.--With the return to milder weather conditions across the Missouri River basin, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin gradually reducing reservoir releases from the current rate of 18,000 cubic feet per second back down to the previously set winter release rate of 14,000 cfs.
Releases were temporarily increased Dec. 18 in response to colder temperatures moving into the region. The measure was taken to help reduce the risk of ice jam formation on the river and tributaries.
“This reduction in releases is not expected to affect stages along the Mississippi River since much of the additional flow will be held as ice in the Missouri River basin until spring,” said Jody Farhat, Chief of the Northwestern Water Management Division. Releases were increased to replace water that was locked up in river ice. Now that the ice is no longer building, the additional release is no longer necessary, said Farhat.
The first cut, from 18,000 cfs to 16,000 cfs took place this morning (Thursday, Jan. 3). Releases are scheduled to be held at 16,000 cfs for six days to allow the cut to work its way past the Kansas City area. Further cuts, from 16,000 cfs to 15,000 cfs and eventually to 14,000 cfs, will follow. Due to concerns regarding the operability of water intake along the lower river, it is unlikely that releases will reach the previously planned 12,000 cfs rate unless tributary inflows increase significantly.
Additional adjustments to release rates may be necessary depending upon the weather. If sub-zero temperatures or wind chills return, releases may be increased back to 18,000 cfs on a temporary basis.