The level of the Missouri River in Bismarck has dropped nearly 3 feet since the middle of September, leaving some boat and pontoon owners high and dry when it comes to getting their crafts out of local marinas.
On Sept. 13, the Missouri River in Bismarck was at 5.5 feet and as of Wednesday it measured 2.72 feet, a drop of 2.8 feet.
During the same period, releases through the Garrison Dam were at 22,000 cubic feet per second and were down to 13,000 cfs Wednesday.
In its Sept. 6 report, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said drought conservation measures would be implemented and projected runoff for the remainder of the year is forecast to be 91 percent of normal.
The total volume of water stored in the Missouri River mainstem reservoir system at the end of August was 52.7 million acre feet. The base of the flood control and multiple use zone is 56.1 MAF.
Greg Power, fisheries chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the fall draw down on Lake Sakakawea is nothing new, but he noted the river has changed dramatically since the 2011 flood.
“Thirteen thousand (cfs) this year is different than 13,000 in 2010,” Power said.
With the scouring that resulted from the flood, Power said the main channel of the river is a good 1.5 feet to 2 feet deeper than it was before the flood.
That translates into less water in marinas and around boat ramps.
Power said Wednesday crews were inspecting boat ramps along the river this week and will have some fresh information regarding conditions and whether or not ramps along the Missouri will be usable the remainder of the fall.
“I assume we’ll have some ramps closed,” he said.
The forecast for October is for releases to remain at about 13,000 cfs, Power said, before increasing in mid-November heading into freeze-up.