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Upstream Flooding Prompts Increased Missouri Releases

In response to developing flood conditions on the Missouri River, the Kansas City Engineer District commander, Col. Doug Guttormsen, declared a flood emergency to exist within the Kansas City District. The district has activated its Emergency Operations Center to an “Emergency Watch” condition March 13.

Under Public Law 84-99, the Corps can provide supplemental support to state and local entities in the form of technical and direct assistance in response to flood emergencies. The safety of the public is its top priority, said the Corps.

The Corps increased releases from Gavins Point Dam several times last week in response to increased runoff into the Missouri River above the dam.

Gavins Point Dam releases were increased from 27,000 cfs. to 32,000 cfs. at midnight March 13.  A second increase from 32,000 cfs. to 37,000 cfs. was made the following morning. Later that day, water releases from Gavins Point Dam were increased to 50,000 cfs., with plans to increase to 60,000 cfs.

The runoff in the drainage area between Fort Randall and Gavins Point Dam is high and continues to increase, due to rapid plains snowmelt and heavy rain on frozen, wet soils in the Niobrara River basin.  The area directly upstream Gavins Point continues to receive heavy rain.

“We know there are communities experiencing flooding, or nearing that condition, along the Missouri River downstream of our dams,” said John Remus, chief of the Corps’ Missouri River Water Management Division in Omaha, Neb.  “We are managing releases from Gavins Point as judiciously as we can in order to lessen the impact downstream.”

There is little storage capacity behind Gavins Point Dam, forcing the Corps to release much of the water that enters the reservoir, according to Remus.

Releases from Fort Randall Dam, the Missouri main stem dam immediately upstream of Gavins Point Dam, were halted completely on March 13 and were expected to remain at 0 cfs. for several days.

“We strongly advise everyone along the Missouri River to maintain awareness of local conditions and changing river levels,” said Remus.

The Corps said that it is working the National Weather Service to monitor conditions. The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings along the Missouri River and its tributaries from southeastern South Dakota to St. Louis, Mo.

The Corps said that it will maintain close communication and coordination with its federal, state and local emergency response partners, and keep the public informed.

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