Corps Reacting To Third Wettest Year In River Basin

NEBRASKA CITY – The US Army Corps of Engineers spoke to a packed house in Nebraska City  Friday for its Missouri River Basin Water Management meeting.

Some farmers attending have been flooded since March and noted that continued high flows through the fall have left the soil near federal flood protection levies soft and at risk.

Reservoir Regulation Leader Kevin Grode  said the high river levels are due to the third highest runoff in upper basin over 120 years of record keeping. He said snow and rainfall this year is exceeded only by 2011 and 1997.

Grode: “We are managing a tremendous amount of runoff and trying to evacuate that stored waters from the spring and summer, but the challenge is we are also seeing a lot of run off come from the unregulated parts of the basin, which all makes it way to the Missouri River, so this is leading to some high flows and high stages on the Missouri River during the fall.”

Ten of the highest 11 runoff years have come since 1970, and Grode said abundant rainfall this fall added to the challenges.

September is the highest runoff year from Gavins Point to Soux City and October is going to be the second highest in a span of 120 years.

Farmers asked the Corps leaders if there is optimism that river management will reduce flooding in the future.

Water Management Chief John Remus said starting with less water in the spring in reservoirs would not have prevented this year’s high flows.

He said there was 41.1 million acre feet of runoff. Releasing that much water is equivalent to 55,000 cubic feet per second all day, every day.

Remus said the corps is concerned about the potential for levy damage. Remus: “It’s not a good way to go into winter.”