ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, began releasing stored water from its six Mississippi River Headwaters reservoirs to ease drought conditions south of St. Louis Nov. 16.
Winter freeze-up has started in the Headwaters region; therefore, the Corps began opening the reservoir gates. The drawdowns will take at least three weeks to complete. The drawdowns will eliminate shoreline damage that may occur as ice thickens and reservoir elevations fall. The St. Paul District water management team will continue monitoring each site for precipitation, snow depth and ice conditions during the controlled release. As reservoir levels approach normal drawdown levels, the gates will be gradually lowered and outflows decreased.
The St. Paul District falls under the Corps’ Mississippi Valley Division. Maj. Gen. John Peabody, division commander, recently directed St. Paul District staff to cut the Headwater reservoirs to minimum outflows and hold any future precipitation until the water could be released in an effort to ease drought conditions and support navigation south of St. Louis. This resulted in pool levels above their normal drawdown elevations. These releases will initiate the return to normal operations.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, serves the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. It contributes around $175 million to the five-state district economy. The 700 employees work at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states. For more information, see www.mvp.usace.army.mil