Page 4 ■ Thursday, January 12, 2012
Corps won’t add fl ood storage space
By BRIAN GEHRING Bismarck Tribune
In its 2012 Missouri River operating
plan released Jan. 6, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it will not provide fl ood storage space above the normal amount, but it will be more fl exible with releases if conditions warrant. Gov. Jack Dalrymple said while that
is some consolation following the 2011 fl ooding, it falls short of the response he was looking for from the corps. “The corps has assured us that they
will be responsive to changing condi- tions in the watershed,” Dalrymple said in a statement. “But it’s disappointing that the corps did not include that statement in writing in the operating plan,” he wrote. Brig. Gen. John McMahon, com- mander of the corps’ northwest division, said the corps will be more fl exible and work to improve communication in its plans to manage the dams along the Mis- souri River. “We are committed to maintaining an
aggressive release schedule if it appears that 2012 will be another high runoff year,” McMahon wrote. He said the corps is studying a pos- sible adjustment to the 16.3 million acre- feet of fl ood storage capacity that is out- lined in the master manual. That study is scheduled to be completed by the end of March, McMahon said. Any changes, however, would have to
be made to the corps’ master manual. It took 14 years and $30 million the last time it was updated. Todd Sando, state water
engineer for North Dakota, said the 2012 plan is not much different than the draft the corps released in November. Sando echoed the governor’s stance that while the corps has said it will be more fl exible in releasing water, he would rather see that policy in writing. “That kind of admits
they could have done bet- ter,” Sando said, about how releases were handled last spring. Jody Farhat of the corps’ Omaha district, said the tar- get elevation for Lake Sakakawea head- ing into March 1, the start of the spring runoff season, is 1,837.1 feet. Last year at that time the level was at 1,837.5 feet, which means there will be about an ad- ditional 300,000 acre-feet of fl ood stor- age capacity. An acre-foot is the amount of water that would cover an acre, one foot deep. Lake Sakakawea peaked at 1,854.6 feet
on July 1, 0.6 feet higher than the exclu- sive fl ood control pool and 0.2 feet lower than the all-time high level in 1975.
The Missouri River fl ows past Bismarck on Jan. 6. This view is looking north from Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.
Don Canton, spokesman for Sen.
John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Hoeven will continue to press the corps to become more fl exible in its management and release more water to create additional fl ood storage capacity. While conditions in the upper basin
are dry, the corps’ long-term forecast is for around normal precipitation as far as snowpack on the Plains and in the mountains. The corps said it will cancel spring pulses in March and May that usu- ally occur to benefi t endangered and
threatened species in the river. Further, the corps said it is projecting a normal eight-month navigation season begin- ning April 1.
Sando said he hopes the corps makes good on its assertion it will be more fl exible when it comes to managing the river. “They gained some experience last
year,” he said. “Hopefully, they will apply it.”
(Reach reporter Brian Gehring at 701- 250-8254 or brian.ge
Oil patch meetings set to discuss growth impact
By NICK SMITH Bismarck Tribune
State offi cials will be holding a series of public meetings in oil-impacted commu- nities of western North Dakota this week to learn more about the effects of area growth and oil activity. The meetings were announced by the
state Commerce Department on Monday. A total of eight meetings are to be held be- tween Wednesday and Friday. State offi cials will provide updates on what is being done to address the needs of communities in oil country, said Sandy McMerty, marketing and communica- tions coordinator for the Commerce De- partment.
In the summer of 2010, the department
held several meetings in western North Dakota to determine the infrastructure needs in oil country. Studies were then commissioned to gather information on community needs. “This is a kind of follow up,” McMerty
She is not aware of any new studies on oil impacts in the works, she said. More than $1.2 billion has been ap-
propriated for infrastructure in western North Dakota, including road repairs, housing, water needs and emergency ser- vices. Jeff Zent, director of communications
for Gov. Jack Dalrymple, said the meet- ings were organized after the governor
directed state agencies to do so. “This is a chance for the Health De-
partment and the Commerce Department and a slew of others to sit down and meet with city and county offi cials,” Zent said. Although the public is invited to at-
tend, Zent said, the meetings are work ses- sions between local and state offi cials. The public will be able to provide comment at the conclusion of the meetings. “They’re planning on being there after
the working sessions ... to meet one on one with residents,” Zent said. McMerty said gathering additional
information from leaders and residents in the western oil-impacted communities should help state agencies better coordi- nate ways to meet their needs.
Representatives from the Commerce
Department, Housing and Finance Agency, Department of Transportation, Department of Trust Lands, State Water Commission, North Dakota Department of Health, North Dakota Highway Patrol and the Upper Great Plains Transporta- tion Institute will be participating in the meetings.
The meetings are scheduled in Wil-
liston, Stanley, Tioga, Crosby, Bowbells, Mohall, Bottineau and Minot. Meeting locations and times can be found online at www.commerce.nd.gov
. (Reach Nick Smith at 701-250-8255 or 701-223-8482 or at nick.sm
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