The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its 2017-2018 Draft Annual Operating Plan for the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System in mid-September. The Draft Annual Operating Plan is not a forecast of anticipated runoff. Instead, it outlines different operating scenarios the Corps would implement based on different amounts of runoff into the river system. The public comment period on the draft plan closes November 17.
In the League’s comments, we are asking the Corps to take the needs of fish and wildlife and outdoor recreationists into account in all its management decisions. We also request that the Corps consider a more flexible approach to water management than is currently used, including additional water storage checks throughout the spring and summer. Currently, the Corps only utilizes two water storage checks – one in March and one in July – that determine water release rates for the entire year. However, river conditions change rapidly. More storage checks and a management policy that reflects actual conditions will conserve water on low runoff years and enable the Corps to utilize higher flows for the river’s authorized purposes in average or high runoff years.
You can review the Draft Annual Operating Plan on the Corps website. The Corps will release the final Annual Operating Plan by the end of the year.