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Missouri River to remain low headed into spring flood season

February 4, 2021 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The amount of water being released into the Missouri River from a key dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border will likely remain low this month because conditions remain dry and snowpack levels are below average throughout the region.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday that it will keep the amount of water flowing out of Gavins Point Dam at the winter release rate of 17,000 cubic feet (481.4 cubic meters) per second. That means river levels will remain low headed into spring.

Officials say it still appears that 2021 will be somewhat drier and only about 89% of the normal amount of water is expected to flow down the Missouri River. The Corps now estimates that 22.9 million acre feet (28.25 cubic kilometers) of water will flow down the river this year. That is below the average of 25.8 million acre feet (31.82 cubic kilometers).

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Currently, less than 80% of the normal level of snow is in the mountains that feed into the Missouri River.

The Corps’ John Remus said the system of reservoirs along the river is in good shape to handle runoff this year while still providing enough water for navigation starting in April and for other uses of the river.