By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
Worries about flooding have been rising the past few days, now another concern has been added.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is increasing water releases from Gavins Point Dam at Yankton, South Dakota into the Missouri River.
Chief of Missouri River Basin Water Management for the Corps, John Remus, admits the Corps doesn’t know exactly what impact that will have on the already swollen Missouri River.
“I do want to say, though, that we really don’t have an option when it comes to Gavins Point,” Remus tells St. Joseph Post. “There’s very little flood control storage in that reservoir and the runoff is pretty excessive coming in just to that reservoir itself. So, we really had no choice but to increase the releases.”
The Corps of Engineers had increased releases from Gavins point to 50,000 cubic feet per second. The Corps had planned to increase releases to 60,000 today, but last night announced it would increase flows to 90,000 to ease widespread flooding in Nebraska that has prompted evacuations of cities and left at least one person dead. Snowpack melt in the Upper Missouri Basin and recent area rain have increased the amount of water pouring into the upstream dam system. Five of the six upstream dams have been able to handle the excess water, but not Gavins Point.
Remus says the Corps is well aware of flooding fears along the Missouri River.
“We’re concerned with that all the time,” Remus says. “The water that people are going to see flooding, whether it’s on the Missouri River main stem or tributaries, is really coming from uncontrolled basins, basins without reservoirs on them. So, there’s really not a whole lot anybody can do to prevent that type of flooding.”
While confident about the federal levee system, Remus worries some of the smaller levees might not hold.
“There are some levees that may not, some privately owned levees or some non-federal levees that may not be able to handle this water,” Remus says. “It kind of depends on the timing of the runoff from the various tributaries.”
Remus says the Corps understands the anxiety its action causes and will strive to keep from worsening flooding in northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas.