Corps Predicts High Runoff From Missouri River Basin

The Corps of Engineers’ Missouri River Water Management Division has raised its forecast of Missouri River Basin runoff in 2018. The Corps now expects 29 million acre feet (maf.) of water in the basin this year, up from 26.4 maf. just a month ago.

If the new forecast holds true, runoff would be 15 percent higher than normal.
“The updated forecast increased from last month due to the continued accumulation of mountain and plains snowpack in the upper basin,” said John Remus, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division. “Based on the current plains and mountain snowpack, runoff into the Fort Peck and Garrison reservoirs is expected to be above average from March through July,” said Remus.

As of March 1, the mountain snowpack was 129 percent of average in the reach above Fort Peck Dam and 134 percent of average in the reach from Fort Peck to Garrison Dam. Normally the mountain snowpack peaks in mid-April. Plains snowpack is currently heaviest in central and eastern Montana. The snowpack’s liquid content, or snow water equivalency (SWE), ranges from 2 to 8 inches. As of March 1, the rest of the upper basin has much less plains snowpack, ranging up to 2 inches of SWE. The Corps is cooperating with other agencies to acquire plains snow measurements in the upper basin.

All 2017 stored flood waters were evacuated from the Missouri River mainstem reservoir system as of January 15, when the total volume stored in the system reached 56.1 maf. System storage is currently 56.4 maf., occupying 0.3 maf. of the 16.3 maf. flood control zone. “Nearly all of the system’s flood storage is currently available to capture runoff from the remaining plains snowpack, spring rainfall and runoff from the mountain snowmelt,” said Remus.
Winter releases from Gavins Point were increased from 18,000 cubic feet per second (cfs.) to 20,000 cfs. in early March. Gavins Point releases will be adjusted, if needed, in response to basin conditions.

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Spring Public Meetings Set

The Corps will conduct five public meetings throughout the basin April 17–19. The purpose of these meetings is to update the region on current hydrologic conditions and the planned operation of the mainstem reservoir system during the coming months. Meeting times and locations are as follows (all times local):

Tuesday, April 17, 10 a.m.— Jerry Litton Visitor Center, 16311 DD Hwy., Smithville, Mo.

Tuesday, April 17, 4 p.m.—Nebraska Regulatory Office, 8901 S. 154th St., Omaha, Neb.

Wednesday, April 18, 10 a.m.—Ramkota Hotel, 920 W. Sioux Ave., Pierre, S.D.

Wednesday, April 18, 6 p.m.—Bismarck State College, National Energy Center of Excellence (NECE), Bldg. 15, Room 335,1200 Schafer Street, Bismarck, N.D.

Thursday, April 19, 10 a.m.—Fort Peck State Fish Hatchery,
277 Montana Highway 117, Fort Peck, Mont.