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Archive for Thursday, October 7, 2004

Missouri River level expected to drop

October 7, 2004

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— Barring tremendous rainfall, water levels will start dropping soon on the Missouri River as the Army Corps of Engineers tries to store more water in upstream lakes.

The corps on Wednesday began decreasing the amount of water released from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota, the farthest downstream dam on the 2,714-mile river that winds from Montana to Missouri.

It typically takes about 10 days for those lower water levels to reach the mouth of the Missouri River, where it dumps into the Mississippi River near St. Louis.

Based on the current river conditions, the reduction in reservoir releases could translate to a 3- to 4-foot drop in downstream water levels, said Steve Mahfood, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. But river levels also could vary depending on rainfall.

The corps, which manages the dams on the Missouri River, announced this summer the commercial barge navigation season would be shortened by 47 days because of new water conservation measures in its revised operating manual.

The Missouri River barge navigation season, which typically ends Dec. 1, is expected to stop by Oct. 15 in St. Louis, said Paul Johnston, a corps spokesman based in Omaha, Neb.

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