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Corps asked to speed up releases from Sakakawea

The chief engineer of the North Dakota Water Commission is asking the Army Corps of Engineers to move more water out of Lake Sakakawea before the Missouri River freezes up for the winter.

"We had way above normal runoff in August," said Todd Sando. "Our tributaries have been putting a lot of water into the Missouri. That's water that needs to be dealt with right now."

Sando says his main concern is along the stretch of the Missouri between Garrison Dam and Lake Oahe. He says groundwater could be a problem.

"We have a lot of infrastructure and a lot of homes in Bismarck-Mandan," said Sando. "Once you get a high river stage, it works its way into the soil profile, because it's sandy soil."

The Corps’ chief of the Missouri River Water Management Division, Jody Farhat, says she’s received the letter from Sando, asking that the Corps revise the plan. But she says the Corps is staying with its plan.

"The way the reservoir system operates is, the water is taken out of Oahe and Ft Randall in the fall, and for Garrison, a lot of the evacuation of water takes place over the winter," said Farhat. "That produces more winter hydropower."

Farhat says the overall runoff into the Missouri system is a little lower than forecast.

"We're sure we will be able to get the water evacuated this winter," said Farhat.

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