The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is ahead of schedule in releasing water from upstream reservoirs on the Missouri River. On Sunday releases from the last downstream dam on the River at Yankton, South Dakota, will reach the target of 40,000 cubic feet-per-second. That will be four days earlier than planned.
Reservoir Regulation Team Leader Kevin Grode says that is because runoff has been below the Corps’ predictions for the month. The Corps plans to maintain the rate of 40,000 cfs through November, before reducing in the first ten days of December of 20,000 cfs, where it will remain through the winter. The 40,000 cfs rate is slightly above the typical fall release rate of 35,000 cfs.
Grode says the four extra days will allow more time for damage assessment of levees and other structures along the River.
When the flood will be considered “over” will vary from location-to-location. The National Weather Service predicts Rulo, Nebraska will be the last location in the lower River to be out of flood stage, and that will happen in early October.
The Coast Guard has also reopened the entire River to navigation and extended that season to December 10. That decision was made, in part, based on input from Corps engineers that have been traveling the River and studying the channel.
Civil Engineer with the Corps’ Northwestern Division Operations, John LaRandeau, says the demand for some products that will support rebuilding efforts, like concrete, can be transported on the River even this late in the year. Many other products normally transported by barge have been diverted through the summer to rail or roadway.
LaRandeau urges caution in navigating the River, however. He says bank lines have eroded and other structures may have changed from what pilots are used to.