This year’s severe drought caused record low inflows in September in the Missouri River basin.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says inflows last month were the lowest since records started being kept in 1898. Jody Farhat, chief of the Water Management Division, says more water had to be released from the six Missouri River main stem reservoirs to support navigation.
She says next year’s navigation season could be shorter if conditions remain dry. "We’re seeing the reservoirs decline rather rapidly here this late summer and in to the fall, and by the start of the next runoff season in March, most of them will be drawn down ten to 12 feet. So at that level we begin to start seeing some impacts to boat ramps and some of the uses of the water that require reservoir elevations to be higher."
Farhat says water releases from Gavins Point Dam will be at a minimum level this winter. She says they’ll monitor weather conditions closely, because ice jams could dramatically reduce the amount of water flowing down the Missouri River.
As of last Thursday, 78 percent of Nebraska remained in an exceptional drought.