An overflow crowd attended the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) final public meeting of the season in Pierre, South Dakota, this week. The Corps holds a series of meetings twice a year to provide updates on basin runoff and their operation of the Missouri River Reservoir System.
The attendees were told that there is a "greatly enhanced risk" of flooding for the eastern portion of the Missouri River basin this spring. Above-average runoff is expected into the system at least through July. To deal with the flows, the Corps is running higher-than-average releases from the reservoir system, and will continue to do so possibly into November. The Corps’ current runoff forecast for 2019 is 38.2 million acre feet. That would make 2019 the sixth-highest runoff year in 121 years of record-keeping.
Major flooding has already occurred in many areas of the basin, and is expected to continue in the lower basin due to multiple levee breaches. John Remus, Chief of Missouri River Basin Water Management, said he is “feeling better” about the situation today than he was three weeks ago. Remus said a lot of the water from the most recent winter storm was absorbed into the ground, unlike what happened three weeks ago, when another winter storm dumped large amounts of rain and snow on still-frozen soils.
League staff attended the meeting, and will continue to monitor the runoff and the Corps’ management of the river. We also continue to advocate for a more resilient river to better handle high flows and flood events.
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Cover image: John Remus, Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Missouri River Basin Water Management, addresses the crowd.