Corps Updates Reservoir Release Forecast to Unprecedented Levels

Fort Peck Dam (photo by Donna Sexton Pace for the State of Montana)
Fort Peck Dam (photo by Donna Sexton Pace for the State of Montana)

Omaha, Neb. – Rapidly changing weather conditions in Montana, northern Wyoming and the western Dakotas have prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make adjustments to previously announced releases. Future releases will reach record levels considerably higher than those previously announced.

Flows from five of the six dams are expected to reach a record 150,000 Cubic Feet per Second, or scfs by no later than mid-June. The previous record releases took place in the fall of 1997 at Gavins Point Dam in Yankton, S.D.

“Protecting lives is our number one priority right now,” said Brig. Gen. John McMahon, Commander of the Northwestern Division of the Army Corps of Engineers. “We are working closely with state and local emergency management teams to identify potential flood areas, provide residents with the most current information and help protect vital public infrastructure.”

“Moving water out of the reservoirs is essential,” said General McMahon. “Our release plan is based on the rain we’ve already received and that which is forecast for this weekend and the snow melt forecast. More heavy rain storms could cause major revisions.”

“Due to our vigilant dam safety program, all dams are well prepared to handle the onslaught of floodwaters,” said McMahon. “This is what these reservoirs were designed to do. They are inspected and maintained on rigid schedules. Our dams are sound.”

Releases out of Fort Peck, Mont., will start to step up next week and are expected to reach 50,000 cfs by June 6. The reservoir will use several feet of surcharge storage above the exclusive flood control pool as the spillway gates are raised.

Garrison releases will increase from the current 80,000 cfs to 85,000 cfs on Monday and Tuesday, and will quickly be stepped up to 120,000 in early June. Releases are scheduled to reach 150,000 cfs no later than mid-June. The reservoir will utilize several feet of surcharge storage above the exclusive flood control pool as the spillway gates are raised. For the first time in history, the spillway gates will be used to pass floodwaters at Garrison Reservoir.

Oahe releases will be maintained at the 85,000 cfs rate through June 2 and then quickly stepped up to 130,000 cfs during the first week of June. Releases are scheduled to peak at 150,000 cfs no later than mid-June. The reservoir will peak within a foot of the top of the spillway gates at 1619 feet.

Big Bend releases will mirror those from Oahe, with its reservoir remaining essentially level at 1420 feet.

Releases from Fort Randall will gradually increase from the current 67,000 cfs to 100,000 cfs during the first week of June. Releases are scheduled to peak at 148,000 cfs no later than mid-June.

Releases from Gavins Point will gradually increase from the current 69,000 cfs to 100,000 cfs during the first week of June. Releases are scheduled to peak at 150,000 cfs no later than mid-June.

“State and local emergency management teams will be the point of contact for residents needing information about flooding in their area,” said Kim Thomas, Chief of the Emergency Management Office here.

State Emergency Contact Numbers

These Web sites and phone numbers are also available on Corps Facebook page (www.facebook.com/OmahaUSACE) under the State, County and Local agencies tab.

• Iowa
o www.iowahomelandsecurity.org
o 515.725.3231

• Montana
o dma.mt.gov/des
o 406.324.4777

• Nebraska
o www.nema.ne.gov
o 24-hour operations - 402. 471.7421
o 24-hour emergency - 402.499.1219
o 24-hour emergency - 402.499.1227
o State EOC - 877.297.2368

• North Dakota
o www.nd.gov/des
o 701.328.8100
o 800.773.3259

• South Dakota
o www.breadysd.com
o 605.773.3231
o 877.579.0015

• Wyoming
o wyohomelandsecurity.state.wy.us
o 307.777.4663 (HOME)

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