The entire state of Missouri would nearly be covered with a foot of water if you were to take the water out of the Missouri River that has passed by St. Joseph so far this year.
It’s not surprising to learn we’ve had more water go through St. Joseph compared to last year, but a 202 percent increase dwarfs the 2018 number.
For perspective, this time last year the river would have filled around half of the state’s acreage.
Picture a flat acre of land with one foot of water resting on top of it. Between January 1 and June, 7 of 2018 there were 21.7 million acre-feet of water passing by St. Joseph on the Missouri River.
That’s obviously a big number, but this year we’ve seen double that amount: 43.8 million acre-feet. For comparison purposes, the state of Missouri has 44.8 million acres of land.
Scott Dummer said we’re still vulnerable to flooding going forward. He’s the development and operations hydrologist for the Missouri Basin River Forecast Center.
“Because of the reservoirs in the Mainstem of the Missouri (River) up north in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota still are very high,” Dummer said. “And the soil moisture, I mean, we’ve had a few days of dry weather now, but overall, we’re still in a wet pattern or wet period.”
For a sample size of how much is projected to go through St. Joseph at the end of this year, the Water Protection Office, located at 3500 759 Highway (Stockyards Expressway), keeps track of how much they receive and also the previous years.
“The wastewater treatment plant this year is taking in an average of about 22 million gallons per day, which is about 7 million gallons a day more than what we did last year,” said Chad Hiserote, the assistant superintendent of wastewater treatment. “Last year we averaged just over 15 million gallons a day.”
Using the average gallons received, Hiserote is predicting 9.6 billion gallons of water to be received this year. Last year the facility received 7.2 billion gallons.
The additional water taken in has created some problems for the facility when it comes to the anaerobic digester — a machine that breaks down sewage similar to the way a stomach break down food.
“When you eat food, you digest that food. If you eat mud, you can’t digest the mud,” Hiserote said. “When that mud goes in (the anaerobic digester), you heat it to 100 degrees. It doesn’t get digested. When it comes out, it’s still there. And it’s all that in organics doesn’t get digested yet.”
The Missouri River numbers come from the average daily flow, which are kept by the United States Geological Survey.
The 2018 numbers are official while the 2019 are provisional. The Missouri Basin River Forecast Center aided helped in researching the numbers for this article.