The Missouri River will likely remain in flood stage through Thanksgiving and perhaps into December, according to the region’s hydrologist.
“It doesn’t look like they are going to reduce the releases at Gavin’s Point Dam until Dec. 1,” said Scott Watson, a National Weather Service hydrologist. “It may not come down (below flood stage) until December sometime.”
Having stayed above flood stage since early March, Watson said he hasn’t seen the Missouri River remain flooded for this amount of time.
“I’ve been here since 2006, and 2011 was a pretty long flood season,” he said. “But I think the river was down below flood stage earlier in the fall than it is this year.”
The river remains in a holding pattern, fluctuating by only inches but remaining steadily near 18 feet, just one foot over the 17-foot flood stage.
Amid the flooding, local leaders continue to scramble to try to find ways to alleviate future flooding concerns.
On a recent visit to St. Joseph, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt suggested deepening the river’s channel could allow for the excess of water to flow without the excess of flooding concerns.
“We’re actively pursuing a better way to use the river and re-prioritize flood control and navigation,” he said.
“Not only does a 10-foot channel or a 15-foot channel move more water than a 9-foot channel or 7-foot channel, but it also moves the water more quickly, which means you don’t have as much buildup in the bottom of the river and you can have a navigational channel that works more effectively because it’s working to clean itself out,” Blunt said. “But the river needs to carry more water in the river bed then it does now.”
Blunt also pointed to the potential economic opportunities to move things on a more navigable Missouri River.
“If you’re more efficient in getting it there, one, you’re more competitive and two, you have more profit potential,” he said. “Both of those things work together nicely together in a world where world food demand is going to double between now and 2050.
“We’re incredibly well located to take advantage of that opportunity, but we have to use our location and use the river in ways to work together in an effective, competitive way,” Blunt said.