The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced a plan to draw down the levels in upstream reservoirs on the Missouri River to prepare for runoff in 2012.

In a statement, Northwestern Division Commander, Brigadier General John McMahon says the plan will gradually draw down excess water from upstream reservoirs to leave 16.3 million acre-feet of storage available by spring for flood control. This is the amount outlined in the Master Manual and based on the 1881 flood.

The General acknowledges runoff from March to July this year was 20 percent greater than what the system was designed to manage, at 49 million acre-feet. However, he says there is not sufficient time to release enough water from upstream to create that much more storage.

The Corps will soon begin an assessment process to study issues such as the possibility of changing the Master Manual to leave more storage open for flood control.  Such changes would take effect no earlier than 2013.

He says in the mean time, the Corps will focus on reparing damage and preparing the basin for 2012.

View the statement from the General here.