Unprecedented levels on Lake Sakakawea
By Chris Gessele, BHG News Service
Tom Roe, Bismarck, has fished the upper stretch of the Missouri River hundreds of times. On Saturday, Roe stood above the tailrace staring down at a furious, frothing, nearly-unrecognizable river. “To see it now is just incredible,” he marveled. Due to a Lake Sakakawea that is nearing capacity, for the first time in the Garrison Dam’s nearly 60-year history the dam’s spillway gates are being used to drain excess water from Lake Sakakawea into the Missouri River. Until then, however, water continues to roar from the dam’s three flood tunnels at an unprecedented rate. The Garrison Dam, a 210-foot high rolled earth embankment, normally allows Lake Sakakawea discharge through three regulatory tunnels having a combined discharge capacity of 98,000 cubic feet per second, and five power tunnels having a combined discharge capacity of 41,000 cfs. At press time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers planned to to discharge water in a controlled manner through the spillway gates the morning of Wednesday, June 1 for the first time in the history of the Garrison Dam.