Woes for farmers and residents on the Missouri River continue. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week hiked releases to 160,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) from Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, S.D.
Heavy rains, totaling up to six inches falling over parts of South Dakota, have resulted in huge inflows to Oahe, Big Bend and Fort Randall reservoirs, the Corps of Engineers reported last week.
The additional 10,000 cfs over the previous record Gavins Point release of 150,000 cfs that was reached on June 14, is expected to increase Missouri River levels from 0.7 to 1 foot at Sioux City and 0.3 to 0.4 of a foot from Omaha to Rulo, Neb., the Corps of Engineers reported.
The Corps reported in early June that they would gradually increase releases through the dams on the river, including a record 150,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) from the last dam, Gavins Point, near Yankton, S.D., as a result of more than 300% normal snowpack in the mountains and excessive rainfall across the Dakotas and Missouri River basin.
Towns, businesses and farms along the river began sandbagging, throwing up levees and moving machinery, grain and livestock to higher ground. The Corps of Engineers at the time felt that this might be the maximum release, although they told river residents to plan on high releases and high river levels to last through the summer months.
"Since the end of May, we have been slowly ramping up releases from our reservoirs to buy time for communities and local and state governments to be able to prepare for high water," according to Brig. Gen. John McMahon, commander of the Northwestern Division of the Army Corps of Engineers in a news release. "We thought we would be able to hold at 150,000 cfs for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, recent rains have reduced our flexibility, and we must evacuate these floodwaters to manage the remaining flood control storage in the reservoir system. As we've stated all along, heavy rain storms could result in major revisions."
Jody Farhat, Chief of the Water Management Division with the Corps of Engineers added, "We will continue to evaluate the amount of water entering the system along with weather events and revise our plans accordingly."
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, visited with Nebraska and Iowa farmers last week when he toured the flooded regions along the Missouri River. Vilsack heard concerns from farmers about crop insurance, additional flooding, cleanup and worries for this crop year and the 2012 planting season.
Maps of potential flood areas are available at www.nwo.usace.army.mil. Updated inundation maps from Gavins Point Dam at Yankton, S.D. to Rulo, Neb., will be available within 24 hours at the Corps of Engineers Omaha District website at http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/. You can also follow Corps of Engineers operations on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and FLICKR for the latest updates on flood response operations.