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USACE implements drought conservation measures

Missouri River Water Management
Published July 8, 2021
System storage is 55.0 MAF, 0.3 MAF less than last week  The Upper Basin annual runoff forecast was updated on July 1. If the forecast runoff of 15.6 MAF is realized, it will be the 10th lowest runoff since 1898. Drought is expected to persist or expand in the Upper Basin during July. Per the Master Manual, navigation support for the 2nd half of the navigation season (July 1 to December 1) is 1,500 cfs less than full service. The navigation season length will be a full 8-month season. Winter releases from Gavins Point Dam, which are based on the Sept. 1 System storage check, are expected to be at the minimum rate of 12,000 cfs.

System storage is 55.0 MAF, 0.3 MAF less than last week The Upper Basin annual runoff forecast was updated on July 1. If the forecast runoff of 15.6 MAF is realized, it will be the 10th lowest runoff since 1898. Drought is expected to persist or expand in the Upper Basin during July. Per the Master Manual, navigation support for the 2nd half of the navigation season (July 1 to December 1) is 1,500 cfs less than full service. The navigation season length will be a full 8-month season. Winter releases from Gavins Point Dam, which are based on the Sept. 1 System storage check, are expected to be at the minimum rate of 12,000 cfs.

Water conservation measures were enacted for the second half of the navigation flow support season based on the July 1 Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System storage, per the guidelines outlined in the Master Manual.

Very dry conditions continue to impact the upper Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, IA (upper Basin) despite recent heavy rainfall in the lower Basin. As a result of the low precipitation and widespread drought conditions, June runoff in the upper Basin was 52% of average.

The updated 2021 upper Basin runoff forecast is 15.6 million acre-feet (MAF), 60% of average. If realized, this runoff amount would be the 10th driest year in the upper Basin since 1898. System storage on July 1 was 55.2 MAF, 0.9 MAF below the base of the Annual Flood Control and Multiple Use Zone. System storage is expected to decline further into the Carryover Multiple Use Zone during the remainder of 2021.

“We reduced the service level to support navigation by 1,500 cubic feet per second from the full-service level,” said John Remus, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division. “This intermediate service level will be maintained through the end of the navigation flow support season, which will end on December 1 at the mouth of the Missouri. The intermediate service level is a necessary water conservation measure to ensure authorized purposes will be served in the short and long term,” added Remus.

The Gavins Point release was reduced from 30,500 cfs to 28,500 cfs on July 1 in accordance with the reduced service level. USACE will evaluate lower Missouri River flow conditions daily to set Gavins Point releases to ensure that flows at the four downstream navigation target locations will be at or above the reduced service level. The monthly study also indicates that the winter release from Gavins Point, which is based on the September 1 storage check, will likely be at a minimum rate of 12,000 cfs.

  Full-Service Level Intermediate-Service Level
Sioux City 31,000 cfs 29,500 cfs
Omaha 31,000 cfs 29,500 cfs
Nebraska City 37,000 cfs 35,500 cfs
Kansas City 41,000 cfs 39,500 cfs

                                              

Mountain Snowpack:

Mountain snowpack in the upper Basin melted out in mid- to late-June, several weeks earlier than normal. The mountain snowpack peaked above Fort Peck in late March at 86% of average, while the mountain snowpack in the Fort Peck to Garrison reach peaked in late April at 96% of average. Mountain snowpack normally peaks near April 15. The mountain snowpack graphics can be viewed at: http://go.usa.gov/xARQC.

Drought Conditions:

Soil conditions in the upper basin are very dry. Drought conditions throughout the entire Basin, particularly the upper basin worsened in June. According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, approximately 74% of the Missouri River basin is currently experiencing some form of abnormally dry or drought conditions, an increase of 9% since the end of May. The seasonal drought outlook, which extends through the end of September, shows drought conditions will persist or expand across the upper basin. Drought information can be viewed at:  https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.

Navigation:

Gavins Point Dam releases will be set to provide flow support at an intermediate-service level, 1,500 cfs lower than full-service flow support at all four target locations (Sioux City, Omaha, Nebraska City, and Kansas City). Flow support for the second half of the navigation season, as well as the navigation season length, are based on July 1 System storage. The flow support season length will be a full 8-month season, ending December 1 at the mouth of the Missouri River.

Winter Release Rate:

The winter release rate is determined based on the September 1 System storage. Per the July 1 reservoir studies, the winter releases from Gavins Point Dam will likely be at the minimum rate of 12,000 cfs.

Monthly Water Management Conference Calls

Water management calls include an update from the National Weather Service’s Missouri Basin River Forecast Center, and an update on the Missouri River mainstem reservoir system operations. The next call for 2021 will be held on Thursday, July 8. All calls are recorded in their entirety and are available to the public on our website at https://go.usa.gov/xARQv.

Reservoir Forecasts:

  • Gavins Point Dam
    • Average releases past month – 29,700 cfs
    • Current release rate – 28,500 cfs
    • Forecast release rate – 30,000 cfs
    • End-of-June reservoir level – 1206.4 feet
    • Forecast end-of-July reservoir level – 1206.0 feet
    • Notes: The Gavins Point release will be adjusted to provide intermediate-service navigation flow support on the lower Missouri River through December 1, the second half of the navigation season.
       
  • Fort Randall Dam
    • Average releases past month – 27,400 cfs
    • End-of-June reservoir level – 1354.7 feet (down 0.5 foot from May 31)
    • Forecast end-of-June reservoir level – 1355.2 feet
    • Notes: Releases will be adjusted as necessary to maintain the desired reservoir elevation at Gavins Point and to back up Gavins Point releases.
       
  • Big Bend Dam
    • Average releases past month – 27,800 cfs
    • Forecast average release rate – 30,800 cfs
    • Forecast reservoir level – 1420.7 feet
       
  • Oahe Dam
    • Average releases past month – 27,800 cfs
    • Forecast average release rate – 30,900 cfs
    • End-of-June reservoir level – 1604.9 feet (down 1.0 foot from May 31)
    • Forecast end-of-July reservoir level – 1603.1 feet
       
  • Garrison Dam
    • Average releases past month – 21,900 cfs
    • Current release rate – 22,000 cfs
    • Forecast release rate – 22,000 cfs
    • End-of-June reservoir level – 1836.5 feet (up 1.3 feet from May 31)
    • Forecast end-of-July reservoir level – 1835.9 feet
    • Notes – Releases will be maintained at 22,000 cfs through August.
       
  • Fort Peck Dam
    • Average releases past month – 9,300 cfs
    • Current release rate – 9,500 cfs
    • Forecast average release rate – 9,500 cfs
    • End-of-June reservoir level – 2232.5 feet (down 0.5 foot from May 31)
    • Forecast end-of-July reservoir level – 2231.3 feet
    • Notes: Releases will be maintained at 9,500 cfs through August.

The forecast reservoir releases and elevations discussed above are not definitive. Additional precipitation, lack of precipitation or other circumstances could cause adjustments to the reservoir release rates.

Hydropower:

The six mainstem power plants generated 853 million kWh of electricity in June. Typical energy generation for June is 850 million kWh. The power plants are expected to generate 8.9 billion kWh this year, compared to the long-term average of 9.5 billion kWh.

To view the detailed three-week release forecast for the mainstem dams, go to https://go.usa.gov/xARQB.

The Missouri Basin Web App provides links to these reports and others that are updated more frequently. http://go.usa.gov/xE6fC

MISSOURI RIVER MAINSTEM RESERVOIR DATA

 

Pool Elevation
(feet above mean sea level)

Water in Storage
(1,000 acre-feet)

 

On June 30

Change in June

On June 30

% of 1967-2020 Average

Change in June

Fort Peck

2232.5

-0.5

14,484

100

-95

Garrison

1836.5

+1.3

17,452

98

+437

Oahe

1604.9

-1.0

17,867

100

-293

Big Bend

1420.8

0.0

1,680

99

0

Fort Randall

1354.7

-0.5

3,380

101

-45

Gavins Point

1206.4

-0.1

337

86

-2

 

 

Total

55,200

99

+2

 

WATER RELEASES AND ENERGY GENERATION FOR JUNE

 

Average Release in 1,000 cfs

Releases in 1,000 acre-feet

Generation in Million kWh

Fort Peck

9.3

554

92

Garrison

21.9

1,303

198

Oahe

27.8

1,654

248

Big Bend

27.8

1,657

89

Fort Randall

27.4

1,633

171

Gavins Point

29.7

1,764

55

 

 

Total

853


Contact
Eileen Williamson
402-996-3802
eileen.l.williamson@usace.army.mil

Release no. 21-044