OMAHA, Nebraska --
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers emergency and water management officials held a call July 18 to communicate to Midwest Congressional representatives, Tribal, state and local government officials (including levee sponsors and emergency managers) an update of current runoff conditions, system storage and a status of flooding response and recovery activities.
A recording of that call can be accessed here:https://www.dvidshub.net/audio/58971/missouri-river-basin-water-management-7-18.
It is also available via Podcast at: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/id508457675.
All of the information provided on this call is accessible through the Missouri Basin “Web App.” The information at the links in the web app is the most up-to-date information from the National Weather Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. https://go.usa.gov/xmtYU.
Kevin Low from the Missouri Basin River Forecast Center, National Weather Service, provided an update on river stages along the Missouri River and its tributaries.
Rivers and tributaries in flood stage include:
- Missouri River from Nebraska City, Nebraska to the mouth at St. Louis, Missouri (Except reaches from Atchison to Kansas City Jefferson City)
- South Dakota: James River, Big Sioux River
- Iowa: Big Sioux River
- Kansas: Big Blue River above Tuttle Creek Reservoir (backwater flooding)
- Missouri: Osage River
Low said the basin should fairly remain dry over the next week with a cold front moving through bringing a chance of showers and thunderstorms on Saturday and Sunday across eastern Nebraska, Iowa, eastern Kansas, and northern Missouri with averages less than an inch but up to 2 inches in some places.
The National Weather Service provides official river stage and weather forecasts. Its website -- www.weather.gov/mbrfc -- provides river observations and forecasts; weather observations and forecasts, and additional information including the spring flood outlook under items of seasonal interest. The Corps’ Missouri River Water Management Division shares all release forecasts with the National Weather Service for incorporation into their forecast products.
The Missouri River Water Management Division provided an update on the July 17, three-week regulation forecast with projected reservoir elevations and release forecasts through early July. The three-week regulation forecast is updated each Wednesday or more frequently if runoff conditions warrant it.
John Remus, chief of the Missouri River Water Management Division noted that as of July 15, runoff in the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa was 42.2 million acre feet exceeding the 2018 runoff total of 42.1 million acre feet, making 2019 already the third highest runoff in 121 years or record keeping. The highest was 2011 with a runoff of 61 million acre feet. The current forecast is for 52.4 million acre feet of runoff for 2019.
Releases from Gavins Point Dam will remain at 70,000 cubic feet per second into August to manage reservoir levels and continue evacuating flood water.
John Leighow, chief of readiness and contingency operations for the Northwestern Division emphasized the Corps commitment to provide recovery support under Public Law 84-99 authorities noting the Omaha and Kansas City district’s aggressive efforts to assess damages, provide initial and temporary repairs, and that work would continue until all repairs are complete.
At river levels decline, additional damages are being identified and the current cost of the efforts is around $123 million and continues to climb. Budget constraints are not anticipated However, Leighow noted that the peak of Hurricane Season is approaching and continues through Labor Day. Any hurricane response efforts will compete for resources needed for recovery efforts.
Eric Shumate, chief of hydrology and hydraulics in the Kansas City District provided an update on the status of the reservoirs on the Kansas River and the Osage River. This information is available on their website at: https://go.usa.gov/xmhrd.
“We are primarily focused on reservoirs in the Lower Kansas Basin and the Osage Basin. We still have a significant amount of water stored in the 10 reservoirs located within these two river Basins with 61 % of the available flood storage occupied,” said Shumate.
Perry and Clinton Dam are 20 feet above their normal operating pool and Tuttle Creek is 50 feet above its normal operating pool. Releases from the reservoirs are gradually increasing as Missouri River conditions improve.
On the Osage Basin conditions are also improving. The flood control pool at Truman Dam 58% occupied down about 10% from the last week with releases at about 50,000 cubic feet per second.
Harlan County Reservoir on the Republican River Basin in south central Nebraska has exceeded its record pool elevation of 1955.66 feet set in April 1960. The pool elevation on July 18 was 1958.08 feet with 38 % of the flood control pool occupied and will remain high until conditions improve between Harlan County Lake and Milford Lake which will receive its releases downstream.
Irrigation releases are 210 cubic feet per second in cooperation with the US Bureau of Reclamation. Flood control releases may begin in the next few weeks.
Details on Harlan County Reservoir can be found here: http://water.usace.army.mil/a2w/f?p=100:1:0::::P1_LINK:5542030-CWMS
Jud Kneuvean, chief of Emergency Management with the Kansas City District provided an update on the status of their flood response efforts and levee conditions. They keep this information updated on their website at: https://go.usa.gov/xmtYD.
To date, the Kansas City District levee rehab team has received a total of 97 Requests for Assistance, representing 79 Non-Federal levees and 18 Federal levees.
High water continues to impact our ability to conduct damages assessments and 25 levee systems still have 2 or more feet of water at the base of the levee, said Kneuvean. Bids have been received for emergency measures at the Mill Creek Dike and Drainage District and the Big Tarkio Drainage District with contract awards anticipated within the next few days.
Nicole Cominoli deputy chief of the Readiness Branch for the Omaha District provided an update on the status of post flood levee inspections and rehabilitation. To date, the district has completed nine initial breach closures within the Omaha District’s area of operations, with 42 remaining.
“Significant progress is being made towards closure of the northern breach of Levee L550 between Watson and Rock Port, Missouri. The contractor has switched from dredging to mechanical placement, and has advanced the sand closure berm roughly 750 linear feet of the needed 1200 linear feet closure alignment. Work on the south breach will likely begin by this weekend,” said Cominoli.
They keep this information updated on their website at: https://go.usa.gov/xmtYB.