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Releases at Historic Levels

by Minot Daily News

The amount of water scheduled to be released through Garrison Dam in November has been increased, reflecting what continues to be one of the largest runoff years in the recorded history of the Missouri River system.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the expected runoff for 2018 is expected to reach 41.4 million acre feet of water. If that number is reached, it would be the third highest recorded runoff in the past 120 years. The amount of water entering the Missouri River system is rated at 163 percent of the yearly average.

Releases from Lake Sakakawea this month have been increased to 29,000 cubic feet per second as compared to a release rate of 26,000 cfs anticipated one month ago. According to the Corp, higher than average releases will continue from all six reservoirs on the Missouri River through the end of this month to prepare the system for next spring’s snowmelt.

The release rate from Garrison Dam, which backs up Lake Sakakawea, is currently forecast to be reduced to 20,000 cfs in December and then increased to 24.5 cfs in the first two months of 2019.

The Monday afternoon elevation of Lake Sakakawea was 1,841.44 feet. Lake Sakakawea is expected to drop to its preferred pre-runoff elevation of 1,837.5 feet by the end of February 2019. The state’s largest reservoir topped 1,853 feet in July. Runoff into Lake Sakakawea exceeded the long-term average March-August, including 197 percent of average in April, 252 percent in May and 190 percent in June.