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Drought conditions likely to linger in Missouri River basin

July 8, 2021 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — This year is shaping up to be one of the driest on record because drought conditions are lingering throughout most of the Missouri River basin.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday that this year could be the 10th driest year on record along the river. Officials cut their forecast again this month and now they predict that only 15.6 million acre feet of water will flow into the river this year, which is about 60% of the average of 25.8 million acre feet.

Nearly three-quarters of the Missouri River basin is currently experiencing either drought or abnormally dry conditions — particularly upstream from Sioux City, Iowa — and the amount of snow in the mountains that feed into the river was also below average this year.

So in most places the Missouri River will remain at a relatively low level this summer although flooding is still possible in locations where heavy rain falls.

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The amount of water being released from the Gavins Point dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border was reduced to 28,500 cubic feet per second at the start of July because officials are trying to conserve water in reservoirs along the river. But that should still be enough water to permit some barge traffic along the lower Missouri River in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.