SIOUX FALLS, S.D.
The mountain snowpack is slightly above normal, but the Army Corps of Engineers is forecasting only 80 percent of normal runoff into the Missouri River system this year. "The snowpack normally peaks in mid-April. The low forecast is due to the relative lack of snow on the plains and the continued dry soil conditions as a result of the extended drought in the upper basin," said Larry Cieslik, chief of the corps' water management office in Omaha, Neb. Runoff for 2008 is forecast to be 20 million acre feet. Storage in the reservoirs was 37. 1 million acre-feet on April 1, 1. 2 MAF more than a year earlier. The upper Missouri River Basin has experienced very dry conditions for eight straight years. Last year, releases from the reservoirs were at an alltime record low because of drought conservation measures and high downstream tributary inflow. Corps officials expect releases will continue to be much below average this year to save water in the reservoirs. Six public meetings will be held this month to review the corps' operating plan for the six main stem reservoirs. They will be Tuesday at Jefferson City, Mo., and Kansas City, Mo.; Wednesday at Nebraska City, Neb., and Fort Peck; and April 17 at Bismarck, N.D., and Pierre. (AP)