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Army Corps says more reservoir space would not have prevented 2011 record floods

Gavins Point Dam via Flickr-USACEPublicAffairs-Jay Woods.jpg
(via Flickr/USACEPublicAffairs/Jay Woods)
Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota releases 150,000 cubic feet per second of water June 14, 2011. Releases from the dam and others in the area were slowed to try to help with flooding of the Missouri River.

An increase in free space within reservoirs would not have made much of a difference in last year’s record flooding along the Missouri River, according to a report released today by the Army Corps of Engineers.   

Jody Farhat, the Corps’ Chief Water Manager for the Missouri River, says a higher amount of free space would have only reduced last year’s flooding, not prevented it.

“Due to the tremendous volume of water, we still would have had very high record releases from the reservoirs," Farhat said.  "We still would have had a significant flood event in the Missouri basin."

Farhat did say that increasing free space is an option, but not the best one.

“For example, we would provide less flow support for navigation," Farhat said.  "Water supply would be impacted, recreation and hydro power, that depend on us either holding water in the reservoirs or releasing it, would be negatively impacted.”

Farhat suggests that increasing reservoir space for flood control would work best if combined with widening the river channels and reducing flood plain development.  Meanwhile, the Corps of Engineers is holding public meetings next week in Jefferson City and St. Joseph to discuss various river issues, including today’s report.

The full report can be viewed at the following web address:



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