The US Army Corps of Engineers says spring runoff in the Missouri River basin is significantly less than earlier predicted.
"What we see is that the mountain snowpack appears to have peaked in early March, instead of continuing to accumulate through at least mid-April," said Jody Farhat, the chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division. "Our runoff forecast is now down around 80 percent."
Farhat says this will likely mean lower reservoir levels this summer, as well as declining levels through the fall.
"There's still plenty of water," said Farhat. "We don't anticipate that we'll have intake issues or boat ramp issues this year. But if this is the first year of a significant drought, then those impact multiply as we move forward."
Farhat says the Corps is planning full-service downstream navigation for at least the first half of the shipping season. But she says that will be re-evaluated in July.