The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to be fully engaged in the flood fighting efforts in the Upper Midwest our Nation. As our Soldiers and Civilians work around the clock, our thoughts are with the many families who have been impacted by this event.
We are doing everything we can to help cope with the rising waters. Our folks on the ground have been working very closely with the local, state and federal agencies to help protect communities in North Dakota and Minnesota in the Red River Basin. Beginning in the recent weeks leading up to the flooding, we have supplied nearly 10 million sandbags, more than 101 water pumps and overseen the construction of several miles of emergency levees and emergency levee raises to support the fight against rising waters. We currently have 170 Corps employees engaged in this response, including 10 Soldiers from our 249th Engineer Battalion who are working to supply emergency power to the region.
While the National Weather Service has announced that the water level has crested in one of the areas facing the most danger, Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., the danger has yet to pass. It will be days before the waters recede back to below flood stage levels, which is why engineers, officials and volunteers are all keeping a close watch on the emergency levees and sandbag levees that are being put under a tremendous strain as they hold back the waters of the Red River.
We will to continue to work with local, state and federal officials to do all we can to assist the residents of these impacted communities.
Emergency Response, Levees
I wanted to give you a quick update on the Missouri River “pulse” and mitigation actions we are taking to eliminate its effects downstream of Kansas City.
We did initiate the seasonal “pulse” to release additional water from the Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River in South Dakota at midnight Tuesday night (March 25). This is something we’re required by law to do so that there is enough water in the upper reaches of the river for the endangered pallid sturgeon to spawn…areas that did not receive the “natural pulse” of recent rains.
I can’t stress enough that we wouldn’t have released this in the first place if we had felt it would negatively impact health and safety. I do understand, however, that many people are worried, and because of that, we worked closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to find an alternative that will alleviate any concerns about flooding downstream.
We are reducing the amount of water we release from five other reservoirs in the Kansas City area that feed into the river system farther down the line. This will eliminate the effect of the pulse below Kansas City completely, and remove any risk to the areas impacted by the recent flooding.
Thank you for your feedback and for keeping us accountable. It is our mission and commitment to protect public health and human safety as we fulfill our responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Civil Works, Corps Projects, Infrastructure, Locks and Dams
(Originally posted March 25, 2008)
Here at the Corps, we are often faced with many challenges as we serve the Nation. Managing our precious water resources in sustainable ways that serve the needs of both people and nature is one of the biggest of those challenges.
One of the critical balancing acts begins at midnight tonight, March 25, as we initiate a two-day “pulse” of water from the Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River in South Dakota, to make sure there is enough water downstream for the endangered pallid sturgeon. This increased water flow is essential to the fish in the upper reaches of the river – an area that has not experienced any of the recent rains, and is experiencing very low water levels right now.
I want to say right up front that we would not be doing this if we felt that there was any risk to the health and safety of the people downstream. Given the forecast models we’re looking at now, the flows resulting from this pulse won’t be anywhere near high river stages. We are closely monitoring the forecasts and runoff and if anything changes, we are prepared to make adjustments. We are releasing this pulse to comply with the Endangered Species Act, and the judgments of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service experts who have determined that this release of water is the best way to replicate the increased water flows that would happen naturally in the spring, if there were no dams on the river. Over the course of the year, the impact of the pulse will reduce the levels in each of the large upper three reservoirs by less than a tenth of a foot.
Also, it’s very important to note that there won’t be any impact to historical and cultural sites along the reservoirs that are significant to the Missouri River Basin Tribes. Finally, I want to reemphasize that we would not initiate the Missouri River pulse if we were aware of any risk to the health and safety of people down river, or if we thought that we would be adding to their current hardships from the flooding.
Our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery go out to all those who have been so terribly affected.
Civil Works, Corps Projects, Environment/Sustainability, Locks and Dams