Spillway remains closed
By JILL DENNING GACKLE
As the level of Lake Sakakawea rose, so did the number of phone calls to the Riverdale U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' office during the past week.
“There are a lot of phone calls and rumors that we're opening the spillway,” according to Todd Lindquist, operations project manager. “That's simply not true.”
The spillway is exactly like it sounds: it is a cement slide that allows for controlled releases when the lake levels exceed capacity.
Lindquist said the snowpack in the upper basin is quickly diminishing and the dam is functioning properly under current conditions. Lake Sakakawea was at 1849.7 mean sea level Monday morning. The spillway was last opened in 2011 when the lake exceeded 1854 feet mean sea level.
“It is very unlikely that they would open the spillway,” Lindquist said. He said it was only likely if there were “significant rain events on a large portion of the basin, upstream of Garrison.”
Many of the phone calls are coming from home owners in Bismarck-Mandan who remembered the 2011 flood.
“The dam was designed in the late '40s, you built your home on an island in the 2000s,” Lindquist said he tells them. “If we didn't have the dam, you would have 100,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) going through Bismarck.”