Increased releases on Missouri allowed

Increased releases on Missouri allowed Endangered and threatened species constraints were lifted during August allowing slightly increased releases from Missouri River reservoirs. Dry conditions continue across the basin with runoff at 73 percent of normal for the month.

"Releases from Gavins Point Dam were limited to 25,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) from July 3 until Aug. 14. This was due to concerns that higher releases would flood the nests and unfledged chicks of the interior least terns and piping plovers that existed below Fort Randall and Gavins Point dams, said Larry Cieslik, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division in Omaha.

"The birds left their summer nesting sites during mid-August allowing us to increase releases to meet minimum service levels," said Cieslik. "Releases from Gavins Point were raised from 25,500 cfs to 28,500 cfs on Aug. 14, and then to 31,000 cfs on Aug. 15. Flows are currently set at 30,000 cfs and will vary as necessary to meet downstream targets."0 The closing date for navigation will remain Dec. 1.

August's runoff was nearly one million acre feet (MAF). "Our runoff forecast above Sioux City for 2002 is 17.5 MAF," said Cieslik. Annual runoff is normally 25.2 MAF.

System storage ended the month at 46.9 MAF, down 1.3 MAF during the month. Last year at this time it was 53.2 MAF. The amount of water in the reservoirs is more than 13 MAF lower than average, putting the three largest main stem lakes 12-18 feet below normal.

Three public meetings to review the draft 2002-2003 Annual Operating Plan for the Missouri River will be held Oct. 15, 16, and 17. The first will be Oct. 15 in Bismarck, ND, at 7 p.m. at the Doublewood Inn, 1400 E. Interchange Ave. The second will be Oct. 16 at the Northwestern Division Omaha Office, 12565 W. Center Road, Omaha, NE at 6 p.m. The third will be Oct. 17 in Jefferson City, MO at 7 p.m. at the Ramada Inn and Convention Center, 510 Jefferson St.

Gavins Point releases averaged 27,600 cfs during August, compared to a normal of 36,600 cfs. Lewis and Clark Lake, which is near elevation 1207 feet above mean sea level (msl), will gradually rise to elevation 1207.5 feet msl during September.

Fort Randall releases averaged 28,800 cfs in August. They will range from 28,000 to 32,000 cfs in September as needed to maintain Lewis and Clark near its desired elevation. Lake Francis Case ended August at elevation 1355.2 feet msl. The lake will begin its annual drawdown in September ending the month near elevation 1350 feet msl. The drawdown will occur sooner than in previous years with the lake ending October near elevation 1337 feet msl to allow work on a cultural resource site.

Lake Oahe dropped nearly three feet during August, ending the month at elevation 1588.1 feet msl. It will drop less than two feet during September, ending the month 18 feet below normal. The lake is nearly 18 feet lower than last year at this time.

Garrison releases averaged 21,100 cfs during August. They will remain at that rate through Sept. 14 and then gradually drop to 14,000 cfs. Lake Sakakawea ended August at 1829.2 feet msl. It will drop one foot in September, ending the month 12 feet below normal. The lake is nearly 4 feet lower than last year at this time.

Fort Peck releases averaged 8,800 cfs during August. They will remain at 9,000 cfs through Sept. 13 and then be reduced to 5,000 cfs. The lake ended the month at elevation 2218.5 feet msl. It will remain near its current elevation during September. Last year at this time it was 3 feet higher.

The six main stem powerplants generated 861 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity in August, 81 percent of normal. Given the forecasted inflow this year, energy production should be 7.4 billion kWh compared to a normal of 10.1 billion kWh.

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