Missouri River at risk to main stem dams, GOP

Travis Gulbrandson writes in the Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan:
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, sediment management is the surest way to extend the life of Lewis & Clark Lake and the benefits provided by the Gavins Point Dam and reservoir. Tim Cowman, director of the Missouri River Institute (MRI), discussed the phenomenon and its impacts at the annual MRI Research Symposium, which was held Thursday at USD. The increased amount of sediment in the delta also is affecting plantlife. “What happened in the flood of 2011 was that because we had such high levels of water going through Gavins Point Dam was that, basically, the delta sediments got pushed further up into the wake. So even though a lot of it still is invisible ... it’s now much shallower,” he said. Cowman said it was like being in a science fiction film. [A Growing Problem: Sediment Continues To Threaten L&C Lake]
Across the Missouri River basin, March set a new SWE [snow water equivalent] record for April 1 thanks to 173 percent of average snowfall, although it hasn’t topped the total record set in 2011. Overall it is at 160 percent of normal, 168 percent of last year and up 14 percent from last month, the report states. [Zach Benoit, Montana snowpack through March near 2011 levels]

Despite the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ forecast that the risk of flooding along the upper Missouri River Basin is minimal this spring, some groups want stepped up releases through Garrison Dam begin as soon as possible. Jody Farhat, water management chief for the corps, said plans are to step up releases through Garrison Dam from the current 18,000 cubic feet per second to 24,000 cfs by April 15 and 25,000 cfs by the end of the month. She said that would mean a 2-3 foot increase in the level of the Missouri River through Bismarck and Mandan. Farhat said based on the corps’ models, Lake Sakakawea will rise to an elevation of 1,839 feet under its lower model, 1,847.9 feet under its basic model and to 1,852 feet under its upper model. Sakakawea is now at an elevation of about 1,836 feet. Lake Oahe, was is at a current elevation of 1,605 feet and could rise 10 feet under the high model. [Brian Gehring, Bismarck Tribune]
David Rookhuyzen writes in the Pierre Capital Journal:
Joel Knofczynski, the acting reservoir regulation team leader, said half of all runoff coming into the reservoir system comes from melting mountain snowpack, while 25 percent comes from rainstorms and another 25 percent comes from the Plains snowpack. That last component is minimal this year, he said. The Corps expects to have normal to above normal elevations and releases for irrigation and recreation purposes. There should also be steady to rising levels on the Missouri’s three largest reservoirs – Fort Peck, Garrison and Oahe – during the prey fish spawning season. [Rookhuyzen, Corps of Engineers: Missouri runoff higher than average, but not concerning]
President Obama: tear down these dams.

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