Omaha, Neb. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Missouri River Basin Water Management Division will be reducing releases from Fort Randall and Gavins Point dams on the Missouri River, beginning Thursday, Nov. 6. Because the area between Fort Randall and Gavins Point dams is popular for outdoor recreation, the Corps is reminding duck hunters to check their decoys, and river users to plan for lower levels.
Releases will be reduced by approximately 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) in a stair-step manner during a four-day period, which will lower the river stage roughly 2 to 3 feet. “The Corps is reducing releases because our planned evacuation of stored floodwater, which began in September, is ahead of schedule, and actual runoff is lower than forecasted,” explains Jody Farhat, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division.
Navigators that have been utilizing the higher river levels also may need to make adjustments; however, flows will continue to exceed full service targets by 5,000 to 6,000 cfs.
The reduced releases will not impact municipal or industrial water intakes because the river will still be higher than the average November flows of 28,700 cfs from Fort Randall Dam, and 31,000 cfs from Gavins Point Dam. The lower river levels may help improve drainage of farmland in this reach.
Fort Randall Dam releases will be stair-stepped down from the current 45,500 cfs to 43,000 cfs on Nov. 6, 40,000 cfs on Nov. 7, 37,000 cfs on Nov. 8, and 36,000 cfs on Nov. 9. Gavins Point Dam will be lowered from the present flow of 45,500 cfs to 42,500 cfs on Nov. 7, 39,500 on Nov. 8, and 36,000 cfs on Nov. 9. The new levels will remain in effect until winter releases are implemented in December.
Higher releases at the four lower dams on the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System were implemented in September to evacuate above normal runoff, thus reducing future flood risk.
Additional precipitation, lack of precipitation, or other circumstances could cause adjustments to the reservoir release rates. The Corps will continue to monitor basin conditions and fine tune the regulation of the reservoir system based on the most up-to-date information.