Easy releases: Officials expect lakes to stay steady for summerCorps of Engineer officials announced that lake levels at the Jamestown Dam would remain steady while levels at the Pipestem Dam would be drawn down this summer. The announcement was part of the James River Operations Meeting held Wednesday in Jamestown
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Corps of Engineer officials announced that lake levels at the Jamestown Dam would remain steady while levels at the Pipestem Dam would be drawn down this summer. The announcement was part of the James River Operations Meeting held Wednesday in Jamestown
The meeting included representatives of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Corps of Engineers, National Weather Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and county emergency managers
The agencies anticipate water levels at Jamestown Dam remaining stable this summer while Pipestem Dam is drawn down to normal summer levels over the next few months.
“Things are looking good at Jamestown Dam, which is at its normal summer level now,” said Brian Twombly, hydraulic engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha, Neb. “We are storing water at Pipestem Dam for release through the summer to maintain flows on the James River.”
Twombly said releases from Jamestown Dam will be regulated to match inflows into the lake. That is currently about 80 cubic feet per second. This will keep the lake level consistent at 1,431 feet above mean sea level.
Pipestem Dam is currently about 5 feet above the normal summer level. Releases of between 100 and 200 cfs through the summer will gradually reduce the lake level to normal summer levels while providing a flow of water downstream on the James River.
“It is different not to have a flood year,” said Arden Freitag, division chief for rural water construction for the Bureau of Reclamation. “Now we’re planning for a different type of year. Some flows from the reservoirs through the summer prevent downstream problems.”
Downstream water uses include recreation, such as fishing and boating, municipal and irrigation uses. Extreme low levels could affect all of those uses.
Freitag said the flows from Pipestem Dam along with groundwater seeping into the streams below the dams should provide enough flow to meet the permitted water uses.
Freitag said water levels at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuges along the river would be held at lower levels this year than the past three years. This includes Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge north of Jamestown and Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge north of Aberdeen, S.D., where water was stored during floods over the last three summers.
The summer operational plan for the James River could change depending on the weather.
“There is very little significant flood concern now,” said Allen Schlag, hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Bismarck. “The biggest concern is the full wetlands. A heavy rain storm and we’d have a rapid shift in conditions.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com