OMAHA -- In the midst of one of the driest years in the upper Missouri River basin, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host a meeting in Sioux City to provide a look at planned operations on the river for 2022.
A public meeting to preview the 2022 Annual Operating Plan for next year's runoff season is scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Betty Strong Encounter Center at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, 900 Larsen Park Road.
In adherence to the U.S. Defense Department's COVID-19 meeting guidelines, attendance will be limited to 50 people, including presenters, and all attendees must wear a mask covering both the nose and mouth.
The meeting also will address current conditions in the basin, which in September once again experienced below-average precipitation. Runoff into the river above Sioux City was 0.8 million acre-feet, 67% of average. Approximately 88% of the basin is currently experiencing abnormally dry conditions or drought, up 6% from August.
"Upper basin runoff was below average in September and is expected to stay low through the remainder of the calendar year. Lower basin runoff has been below average as well," John Remus, chief of the corps’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, said in a news release.
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The corps' 2021 runoff forecast is 14.8 MAF, 57% of average. That total would be the 10th lowest in the basin since 1898. The average annual runoff is 25.8 MAF.
Precipitation throughout much of the river basin has been well below normal since October 2020. In July, the corps began water conservation measures, reducing releases from Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, South Dakota, and cutting into the river's flow in support of downstream navigation. Releases currently are at 32,000 cubic feet per second.
Winter releases from Gavins Point likely will be at the minimum level of 12,000 cfs, the corps has said. Releases will be reduced to winter levels around Nov. 22.