Drought still impacting Missouri River management

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers expects higher-than-normal runoff in the Missouri River basin next year, but the system of dams along the river will still have minimum flows to recover from drought last year.

Wet soil conditions from abnormally high precipitation in the upper basin this fall are expected to cause monthly runoff records for the Oahe and Fort Randall areas in South Dakota this October, according to Kevin Grode, reservoir regulation team lead with the corps. Total runoff for this year above Sioux City, Iowa, is expected to rank among the top five wettest years, the Capital Journal reported (http://bit.ly/16IEYqM ).

There are not yet any projections for snow in the plains or mountains this winter, but because of the moisture already in the ground, even with normal precipitation the corps expects higher-than-normal runoff next year, Grode said.

Despite the wet conditions, reservoirs still are below desired levels due to the 2012 drought, and the system is still expected to support less than full-service navigation downstream next year.

The corps is taking public comments through Nov. 15 on its draft 2014 operating plan for the river that stretches from Montana to Missouri. The draft can be found online at http://www.nwd.usace.army.mil . A final draft will be released in December.

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Information from: Pierre Capital Journal

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