The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may not need to make a March release of water from Gavins Point Dam this year, says Jody Farhat, chief of the Corp’s Missouri River basin water management division.
Farhat said that nature may provide this spring’s natural river “surge,” which is needed to cue spawning by the endangered pallid sturgeon.
There is enough snow cover in eastern South Dakota to flush high flows through the Missouri River, depending upon how and when it melts, she said.
The agency expects to make a final decision on a release the day before it would have to make a release, around March 20.
Any surge caused by a water release should remain within the river channel, she said.
Last year, the Missouri River basin experienced its third-highest runoff on record, resulting in prolonged, mostly lowland flooding.
Farhat said she doesn’t expect similar conditions this year. “It should be much lower than last year, unless we get a lot of rain.”