Releases risingWater releases from the Jamestown and Pipestem reservoirs have already been increased to 1,900 cubic feet per second, with more increases on the way, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Monday. Information on how the releases will affect people and property was scant Monday as engineers from the corps, Stutsman County, the city of Jamestown, Bureau of Reclamation and Interstate Engineering were still gathering information.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Water releases from the Jamestown and Pipestem reservoirs have already been increased to 1,900 cubic feet per second, with more increases on the way, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Monday.
Information on how the releases will affect people and property was scant Monday as engineers from the corps, Stutsman County, the city of Jamestown, Bureau of Reclamation and Interstate Engineering were still gathering information.
“We’re preparing some maps of the additional areas that will be flooded, so that hopefully, through sandbagging or possibly construction of emergency levees, there won’t be any additional flooded structures,” said Tim Temeyer, a hydraulic engineer in the water control and water quality section of the corps.
Farmland that has already been flooded this summer during heavy rainfall events may be flooded again with the higher releases, Temeyer added.
How the excess water will affect the city of Jamestown and the surrounding area will depend on precisely how much water is released, the corps indicated in a press release.
A preliminary field inspection said only minor sandbagging in critical areas would be needed if releases went to 2,000 cfs, but that emergency levees would be required if the releases reached 2,400. Those levies would not be as extensive as those put up during the floods of 2009, Temeyer said.
The additional water flow will continue for “definitely more than several weeks,” Temeyer said, and likely from one to three months.
The process of incrementally increasing water output has already begun. At 10:30 a.m. Monday, releases from Pipestem Reservoir were increased from 600 cfs to 700. Flow from the Jamestown Reservoir was kept at 1,200.
Engineers were waiting until after Monday’s projected rainfall to make final determinations on how high the releases would have to be in order to avert spillway flows.
Due to the weekend rainstorm, water from the burgeoning Pipestem Creek had already covered a patch of 30th Street Northeast with 8 to 10 inches of water by Monday afternoon, and water levels at Pipestem Reservoir remained high. It is expected to peak at 1,490 feet on Aug. 25, 3.2 feet higher than its previous peak this year. Jamestown Reservoir is forecast to peak Aug. 26 at 1,452 feet, .7 feet higher than its previous peak this year.
“Because of the additional rainfall we’ve gotten in the last 30 to 60 days, the reservoir pool levels are climbing to a point where if additional rainfall occurs, there’s a possibility of spillway flows,” Temeyer explained. “The other thing that’s happening is, we’re getting so much (water) left in the reservoirs so late in the season that we’re going to have a hard time evacuating it in the fall.”
Stutsman County Emergency Manager Jerry Bergquist urged the public to stay informed about what the corps is doing with the James River and call City Hall if they observe any issues.
“They need to especially pay attention to new stories coming out, because we are in a changing situation and we don’t know how much change (there will be), and we don’t know what it means for the city or the public yet,” Bergquist cautioned.
A public meeting about the additional water releases will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the theater of Jamestown High School.
“It’s going to create some difficulty on the part of the city and the local residents to deal with slightly higher releases, but all this is manageable, if we work together as we have in the past,” Temeyer said.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org