Corps of Engineers keeping drought conservation measures in place

May 17, 2013

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says drought conservation measures will remain in place along the Missouri River basin.

The Corps’ Omaha District updated conditions during a conference call earlier this week. 70 percent of Nebraska remains in extreme drought, according to the latest report from the UNL-based National Drought Mitigation Center.

Conditions have improved in eastern Nebraska, and minimum flow support is being provided for navigation season. But Missouri River Basin Water Management Division chief Jody Farhat says there’s always a risk of some flooding.

“Even in the midst of severe drought, floods can and do occur, particularly this time of year as a result of thunderstorm activity below the reservoir system. Real-time regulation of the reservoir system is done using the best hydrologic and climatic information and has been adjusted to respond to changing conditions on the ground.”

During April, runoff from the six Missouri River mainstem reservoirs was at 78 percent of normal. Releases from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota will increase to 24,000 cubic feet per second next week. The increase is needed to provide support for nesting season and for navigation.

Corps officials say if severe drought conditions persist, the navigation season could be cut short.