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Corps tweaks Missouri River plan after flooding

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineersannounced today that it’s changing its short-term approach to managing water levels on the Missouri River, following devastating flooding this summerin Missouri, Iowa and North Dakota.

Jody Farhat is chief of the Corps’Missouri River Basin Water Management office in Omaha.  She says the Corps of Engineers will be more flexible this fall and winter in evacuating as much water as possible along the Missouri ahead of next year’s runoff season.

“If we see that the snow and the runoff is ahead of schedule, then we will take action to increase releases through the winter, as long as we can do so in a safe and effective manner," Farhat said.

The change follows a series of public meetings in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and Montana.

“If we have the opportunity to evacuate additional water, or if our inflows come in below projected levels and we end up lower in the reservoirs than we originally planned, we’ll take advantage of all that," Farhat said.

But Farhat added that there have been no changes to the long-term approach for managing the Missouri River, and that federal laws protecting the pallid sturgeon and other species remain in effect.  The Corps still plans to hold two releases of water on the Missouri River next year to benefit the endangered fish.

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.