Monday, May 30, 2011

Montana emergency coordinators stilling Fort Peck Dam collapse rumors; Corps flushing toxins

While not quite a worst case scenario, the collapse of the Fort Peck Dam would be catastrophic. There was a partial failure in 1938. Here is a NOAA webcam at Fort Peck. From the Billings Gazette:

The spillway at Fort Peck Dam, which backs up the 134-mile long Fort Peck Lake, operated earlier this month for the first time since 1997, said Jody Farhat, Chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management office with the U.S. Corps of Engineers. She said water will pass over the spillway again starting Thursday as the Corps plans to build to a record release of 50,000 cubic feet per second by June 6. The previous record, she said, was 35,000 cfs in 1975. She reiterated that the dam is absolutely safe.
2011 snow pack graphic. The NPR report on Montana's relief and recovery efforts with photos from the Crow reservation. From the already flooded downstream Bismarck Tribune:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is using the spillway and increasing output from the Garrison Dam within the next two weeks. Changes to the Missouri River channel, however, led the corps to lower its projected river level in Bismarck. U.S. Geological Survey stream gauges in the Bismarck area show the water in the Missouri River is flowing about 16 feet per minute, or about seven to eight times greater than normal, said North Dakota National Guard Adj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk. The faster the water moves, the greater its capacity to carry sediment.
NOAA Yellowstone River webcam at Glendive. USGS stream data at the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. It's not as if the Corps hasn't wanted to send toxic sediment into the Gulf of Mexico where it could join with dispersants from the BP oil calamity. Again, from the Bismarck Tribune's Sara Kincaid:

The corps intends to release 85,000 cfs on Monday, 105,000 cfs on Wednesday and 120,000 cfs on Thursday, said Todd Lindquist, the operations manager for the Garrison Dam. It intends to hold the release at 120,000 cfs for about a week before raising it to 150,000 cfs in mid-June. The 150,000 cfs releases could go into July.
Screw New Orleans, right?

Boulder Hill this morning ip photo

From South Dakota's Bob Mercer, who beat this post by an hour and fifteen minutes, btw:

The engineers who designed the Missouri River dam system were geniuses. They did the best they could with the knowledge they had at the time of the climate and the terrain. We became spoiled in the decades since, carefree where we built, angry and demanding when the reservoirs didn’t contain enough water for our pursuits and needs. Now we face what many never expected.
Well, some of us did expect it.


commoncivicgood said...

I agree with you and Bob about the pending disaster Missouri. I am glad that you bring up the 1938 partial dam failure at Fort Peck to show that these dams are not perfect. A side note bring up about Fort Peck, Fort Peck was one of the first high head earthen dams. At the time a revolutionary way to create dams, and the predecessor to all of the other dams on the Missouri River. These structures have held up very well for all the stress they have been put under. The one item I think people up here forget, though, is that the Missouri River flows into the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River is so high that the Corps are resorting to use measures created after the flood of 1927. So there is nowhere for the water to go. If it is released to save Pierre and Ft. Pierre, it is probably going to possibly hurt Sioux City, Omaha, Kansas City, and St. Louis. Which have a greater economic impact then Pierre and Ft. Pierre. Sorry for being so long winded.

larry kurtz said...

Thank you for coming by and sharing your perspective. Best wishes.