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Corps: Sakakawea to rise five feet

2/12/09 (Thu)

Corps: Sakakawea to rise five feet
Corps of Engineers officials in Omaha predict Lake Sakakawea will peak this summer at 1829 mean se level. The big lake currently sits at about 1824 msl.
Corps officials are basing their forecast on current mountain snowpack that is near normal for this time of year. Corps information notes that plains snowpack is below normal. The current forecast for runoff in 2009 is 22.3 MAF, 90 percent of average.
“The snowpack is a good sign, but it’s too early to be very optimistic about significant recovery,” said Larry Cieslik, chief of the Water Management office in Omaha. “2008 was the first year since 1999 with runoff above the normal 24.8 MAF. The higher inflows helped, but another major contributor to the higher reservoir levels was the weeks of low releases due to good downstream tributary inflow. It remains to be seen if downstream inflow will be good again this year.”
Last year, Lake Sakakawea rose more than 15 feet.
Steady to rising reservoir levels during the spring fish spawn at the three large upper reservoirs are likely if there is normal or above normal runoff. However, continued drought conditions may not make that possible at all three. If that is the case, the Corps will set releases at Garrison Dam to result in a steady to rising pool during April and May, to the extent reasonably possible. The ability to provide such conditions depends on the volume, timing and distribution of the runoff from melting snow on the plains and in the mountains of Montana and Wyoming.