OMAHA, Nebraska --
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers emergency and water management officials held a call August 15 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/59441/missouri-river-basin-water-management-8-15.
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.
Northwestern Division Response
John Leighow, chief of Northwestern Division Readiness and Contingency Operations reported that the Omaha and Kansas City Districts have transitions to recover support along the Missouri River Basin and ongoing Phase 1 repairs, which include closing or repairing breaches where most infrastructure and population centers are at risk.
Teams are accessing and refining damage assessments to the 850 miles of impacted levees within the region, said Leighow.
Phase 2 repairs are focused on full repairs. Of the 181 requests for rehabilitation assistance submitted to the Kansas City and Omaha Districts, 64 project information reports have been approved. These reports support requests for funding for subsequent engineering and design efforts for final repairs.
The entire levee rehabilitation effort for the Missouri River Basin has been estimated at $1 billion with additional expenses expected as requests for assistance and damage assessments continue.
National Weather Service
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:
- Minor flooding on the Missouri River from Nebraska City, Nebraska to St. Joseph, Missouri and from Napoleon, Missouri to Miami, Missouri
- South Dakota: James River, Big Sioux River
- Kansas: Big Blue River above Tuttle Creek Reservoir (backwater flooding)
- Missouri: Little Osage River
Low said over the next seven days, a very active weather pattern will set up a front over southeast Nebraska, north east Kansas, southern Iowa and northern Missouri which will bring several bouts of rain tonight through the weekend. Widespread 2 to 3 inches of rain is likely through the weekend with some areas in excess of 5 inches. A second system will bring rain Wednesday and Thursday across the southern portion of the basin.
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.
Upper Missouri River System (above Sioux City, Iowa)
The Missouri River Water Management Division provided an update on the three-week forecast issued on August 14. System storage is currently 67.2 million acre feet (MAF).
Mike Swenson, from the Missouri River Water Management Division noted that system storage had declined by about 0.3 MAF in the past week with 11.1 MAF currently stored in the system’s flood control zones.
Releases from Gavins Point Dam will remain at 70,000 cubic feet per second into September to continue evacuating flood water.
Fort Randall reservoir is at elevation 1362.4 feet, which is up 0.6 feet since last week due to continued heavy rain in that area. The reservoir is more than 7 feet above its normal summer operating level.
Fort Peck reservoir is at 2245.4 feet down 0.4 feet in the last week. Garrison reservoir is at 1850.3 feet down 0.8 feet in the last week but remains at 0.3 feet above the base of the exclusive flood control zone. Garrison Releases are expected to remain at 46,000 cfs through August. Oahe reservoir is at 1616.7 down 0.1 feet in the last week. The reservoir is 9.2 feet above the base of the annual flood control zone.
Lower Missouri River Basin (Kansas and Osage River Reservoirs)
Eric Shumate, from the water management division 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.
As a whole, the four reservoirs in the Lower Kansas River Basin have 50% of their flood control storage occupied.
Milford Dam is releasing 4,000 cfs and forecast to maintain this release rate through the weekend. Tuttle Creek Dam is releasing 12,000 cfs, and will begin to reduce releases on Saturday. Perry Dam is releasing 200 cfs and Clinton is releasing 3,000 cfs.
“We anticipate maintaining this operation in the short term as we determine a long term approach to emptying the approximately 2 million acre-feet stored in the Kansas River basin,” said Shumate.
Conditions on the Osage River Basin are improving with 17% of their combined flood control storage occupied. Truman Reservoir currently has 18% of its flood control storage occupied, down from 25% last week. Releases from Truman dam are 32,000 cfs and will be reduced to 30,000 cfs by August 16.
Kansas City District Emergency Response
Jud Kneuvean, chief of emergency management from the Kansas City District provided an update on the status of 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 105, corrected from 107 last week, requests for levee rehabilitation assistance, 18 have been approved to enter the engineering and design phase shortly.
“We expect to receive a few more before we are done. From the period March 2019 to present, 66 levee systems in the Public Law 84-99 rehabilitation and inspection program were overtopped. 45 of those levee systems were subsequently breached. To date we have submitted 32 project information reports for approval by higher headquarters. 5 amended reports have also been submitted for approval,” said Kneuvean
The district intends to cease supported pumping operations at the end of August and will begin notifying those sponsors receiving pump support next week. Technical and direct assistance are being provided on an as-needed basis.
Contractors have begun moving and placing rock at the Mill Creek and Big Tarkio emergency measures project. The purpose is to close breaches on both the Mill Creek Levee and the Big Tarkio Levee to prevent water flowing unabated across the flood plain. The work will also help Mill Creek and the Big Tarkio River to re-establish their pre-flood flow patterns by re-establishing the stream banks. Rock delivery and placement these locations are expected to take approximately 10 weeks to complete.
“Conditions on the ground remain tenuous at best, as any rainfall in the area and any rise in Missouri River stages effects our ability to execute the work. With the number of levee systems that were damaged it is going to take us a considerable amount of time to get levees repaired. Areas behind the damaged levees will remain vulnerable to flooding for the foreseeable future,” said Kneuvean.
Omaha District Emergency Response
Matt Krajewski, 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 10 initial breach closures within the Omaha District’s area of operations, with 39 remaining.
“Last week, we awarded a $10.3 million contract to repair levee systems R616-613 and R613 south of Offutt Air Force Base. Work is anticipated to begin August 19th,” said Krajewski.
Another contract for $183,000 to repair the Pierce – North Branch Elkhorn River Right Bank levee system in Pierce, Nebraska was awarded August 7.
“We are anticipating that we will have 5-10 more of the tributary projects ready for award within the next two months to continue these repair efforts,” said Krajewski.
The initial breach closure for Levee L611-614 near Council Bluffs is about 95% complete with anticipated contract completion around August 23rd.
For Levee L-575 near Hamburg, Iowa, the District is working with project sponsors on finalizing cooperation agreements and Rights of Way so construction can commence.
For Levee L550 between Watson and Rock Port, Missouri, the District anticipates the north breach be closed this week. Work will then move to the south breach where the contractor has built a temporary haul road and has been stockpiling material.
For the Hamburg Ditch 6 levee, the District is working on engineering and design documents for the full rehabilitation of the levee. Contract award and construction are anticipated this fall.
“Engineering and design is currently ongoing on several other levees on the Missouri River and tributaries. As these designs are completed, we will continue to move forward with contract awards and construction,” said Krajewski.
Omaha District levee status information is updated on their website at: https://go.usa.gov/xmtYB.