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'Manageable amount'

The James River in Jamestown is beginning to open up in a few areas as seen Tuesday along McElroy Park. Combined releases of 750 cfs from Pipestem and Jamestown dams are anticipated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. John M. Steiner / The Sun

The preliminary flood outlook from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued Monday anticipates combined releases of up to 750 cfs from Pipestem and Jamestown dams. Timing of the releases will depend on the weather and how the spring melt progresses.

"That will be a very manageable amount to flow through the community," said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager.

Travis Dillman, city engineer with Interstate Engineering, said the city usually doesn't see problems until releases reach about 1,000 cfs. At that point plugging some storm sewer inlets to prevent river water from backing up into the streets may be necessary.

"Everything we see right now (750 cfs forecast) is doable by the city," Dillman said.

The Corps of Engineers issued a news release Monday, saying remote sensing of snow accumulations in the upper James River and Pipestem Creek basins averaged 3.75 inches of snow water equivalent.

This means the snow on the ground above the two dams, if melted, would yield 3.75 inches of water.

Currently, water levels behind Pipestem Dam are at 1,441.4 feet above sea level. There is 10 cfs of water being released from Pipestem Dam at this time.

Water levels behind Jamestown Dam are at 1,430 feet above sea level with no releases at this time.

Lake levels at both dams are at "conservation pool," or the level the lakes should be at going into spring runoff.

"All of the flood storage at Jamestown and Pipestem Reservoirs is currently available for the spring runoff," the Corps of Engineers said.

Plans call for releases from Jamestown Dam to take precedent with the reservoir level to be returned to its normal level by June 1. Releases from Pipestem Dam would occur over a longer period and could extend to August.

Any additional rain or snow could necessitate higher releases, the Corps of Engineers said.

A more complete forecast of releases is anticipated in April.

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