October 4, 2008

Corps Meeting to Be Held

The Army Corps of Engineers has released a draft for the 2008-09 Annual Operating Plan for the Missouri River.

Bismarck will host one of six scheduled public meetings in October. That meeting is set at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Ramkota.

The plan presents information on the anticipated regulation of the Missouri River main stem reservoir system for 2009 and the remainder of 2008.

Comments, both oral and written, will be accepted by corps until Nov. 21.

The draft plan proposes two "spring pulses" to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of the endangered pallid sturgeon.

The pulses will be conducted in March and May.

The draft plan anticipates that there will be only minimum flows at the start of the 2009 navigation season which could be shortened up to 30 days, depending on runoff this winter and spring.

A final determination on season length will be made July 1, 2009.

Steady to rising reservoir levels during the spring fish spawn are likely if there is normal or above normal runoff.

Continued drought conditions may not make that possible at all the upper three reservoirs, according to a corps statement.

If possible, the corps will set releases at Garrison Dam to result in a steady to rising pool during April and May, according to the statement.

The pulses from Gavins Point Dam in the spring are intended to mimic the historic ebb and flow of the river to benefit the spawning of the pallid sturgeon.

The 2009 plan includes the "flood control constraints" contained in the Master Water Control Manual.

The water needed for the May pulse, will be gradually staged in Fort Randall reservoir prior to the pulses, further reducing negative impacts to storage in the three largest reservoirs of Oahe, Garrison and Fort Peck.

The public meetings will open with presentations on this year's runoff, reservoir storage, and the regulation of the six dams and reservoirs.

These will be followed by descriptions of the regulation for the remainder of 2008 and the year 2009 for flood control, hydropower, navigation, irrigation, recreation, water supply, water quality, fish and wildlife and endangered species for a wide variety of runoff and storage conditions.

Meetings also are scheduled Oct. 14 in Nebraska City, Neb.; Oct. 15, Kansas City and Jefferson City, Mo.; Oct. 16 in Fort Peck, Mont.; and Oct. 17 in Pierre, S.D.

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