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Insider Blog: Below average runoff to our north and its expected impact on mid-Missouri

It all stems from low soil moistures and lower than average snow pack to our north, and it's expected to have some impact on our river interests here in mid-Missouri.

"We're coming off of a, the 10th driest upper basin runoff in a 124 year period of record."

John Remus, Chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division for the US Army Corps of Engineers, says a dry 2021 in the northern half of the basin has engineers implementing conservation measures in their aid of flow along the entire length of the river. 

"So while we concentrate on the runoff and the operation of those particular projects, we do manage them for basin wide benefits."

Remus says their reservoir system is designed to keep the river functional through a drought spanning several years.  

"The design drought is actually the dust bowl drought, an extensive drought from 1930 to 1941."

The 2022 calendar year runoff forecast above Sioux City is 84% of average, meaning they will likely have to implement water conservation measures through 2022 and possibly into 2023. 

"In the lower river on the navigable portion of the river from Sioux City, Iowa to the mouth, the main impact is going to be to commercial navigation. "

Remus says other impacts should be relatively minor, with water level having some impact on things like recreational boat slips or certain wildlife areas. 

Still, it's something those on the river will have to plan around. 

"Navigators and shippers are going to have to plan for lighter drafts. I wouldn't say it's business as usual, but they're able to understand what the conditions are probably going to be out there and plan accordingly."

He adds that it's important to remember that, while river levels may be down this year, you shouldn't ignore your responsibility of preparing for the possibility of localized river flooding.

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John Ross

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