Omaha, Neb. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Northwestern Division is reducing releases from Gavins Point Dam following heavy rain across parts of the Missouri River Basin, in an effort to lessen flood risk downstream.
“Gavins Point Dam releases will be reduced from 30,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 12,000 cfs in response to increased tributary flows,” said Jody Farhat, chief of the Missouri River Water Management Division. “Repeated heavy rains in the Big Sioux Basin and surrounding tributaries have increased forecasted flows below the system of reservoirs. To help reduce the peak flood stage downstream at Sioux City, Iowa, Gavins Point releases were reduced by 4,000 cfs on June 15, 10,000 cfs today, and an additional 4,000 cfs decrease is scheduled for June 18.”
The latest National Weather Service forecast shows most locations along the Missouri River rising above flood stage from Decatur, Neb. to Waverly, Mo. “Reductions in releases are part of our normal flood risk reduction measures. Proactively reducing Gavins Point Dam releases now will help lower some of the peak water stages on the Missouri River downstream later this week. We will continue to monitor conditions in the basin and make additional release adjustments as necessary,” explains Farhat.
The total volume of water stored in the mainstem reservoir system is currently 58.1 million acre-feet (MAF), occupying 2 MAF of the 16.3 MAF combined flood control storage zones. “The reservoirs are well positioned to handle the extra water that will be stored due to these reductions in releases,” states Farhat.
Releases from Fort Randall Dam, the next reservoir upstream of Gavins Point, have also been cut to minimize the increase in the Gavins Point reservoir level. Fort Randall releases have been stepped down from 22,000 cfs to 11,000 cfs. Reductions in Fort Randall releases take about one and a half days to reach Gavins Point.
Public safety and protection of critical infrastructure are the Corps’ top priorities. People are urged to exercise care near rivers with high flows, and to avoid walking or driving on or near levees. Banks can be undercut and fall into the river without warning. The Corps works closely with state and local emergency responders to inspect, advise and assist communities with professional engineering expertise and materials during flood fights.