The 2012 spring runoff season is underway along the Missouri River.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials say releases from Gavins Point Dam averaged 22,000 cubic feet per second during February. It’ll stay at that level through the middle of this month, and then increase for the start of the navigation season. Last year’s record runoff season led to devastating flooding along the Missouri River in Nebraska and Iowa.
The leader of the Corps of Engineers’ Omaha District believes the agency is better prepared in the event of flooding this year.
About 70 emergency managers and levee sponsors gathered Tuesday in Omaha for the annual Missouri River flood fight preparedness training. Last year’s Missouri River flooding inundated farms, businesses, and homes in western Iowa for more than three months.
Western Iowa residents forced out of their homes by Missouri River flooding may have another option for temporary housing.
Iowa Finance Authority spokeswoman Ashley Jared says flood victims can apply for a waiver to live in housing usually restricted by the federal government to low-income families.
Jared says the waiver applies to flood victims in Monona, Harrison, Pottawattamie, Mills, and Fremont counties. People who lived in those counties between May 25th and August first of 2011 can apply for the housing waiver.
Two more levee repair projects are underway south of Omaha following last summer’s Missouri River flooding.
The Corps of Engineers says a $43,000 contract was awarded for seeding along the levee from Bellevue to Plattsmouth. A $4.7 million repair project is also underway five miles south of Nebraska City.
Brett Budd, chief of the Omaha District’s Systems Restoration Team, says the work south of Nebraska City involves repairing scour holes and installing a seepage berm. He says the entire project will be complete by June first.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says additional storage space will be available in the six Missouri River main stem reservoirs this spring.
During a biweekly conference call Friday, Corps officials discussed conditions going in to the start of the spring runoff season, which begins March first. Jody Farhat, Chief of the Omaha District’s Water Management Division, says plains and mountain snowpack are below this time last year.
A Rhode Island-based biofuels company is expanding its operation at a southwest Iowa plant.
BioProcess Algae broke ground Wednesday on a five-acre facility at the Green Plains Energy ethanol plant in Shenandoah. BioProcess opened a demonstration plant in 2009 at GPRE’s Shenandoah campus. The facility captures the waste products used to make ethanol, and uses them to grow algae. The algae is then used in animal feed.