Water levels increase at Jamestown, Pipestem reservoirs
Water releases at Jamestown Reservoir increased from 100 cubic feet per second to 200 feet per second on Wednesday, April 20.
JAMESTOWN – The snowmelt has caused the water levels at Jamestown Reservoir and Pipestem Reservoir to increase.
As of Wednesday, April 20, Jamestown Reservoir was 3 feet into the flood storage at 1,434 feet above mean sea level, said Bob Martin, Pipestem dam manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The water level at Pipestem Reservoir has risen 14 vertical feet so far and was at 1,455 feet above mean sea level. Pipestem Reservoir’s conservation pool is at 1,442.5 feet above mean sea level. During the winter, the water level at Pipestem dropped to 1,441 feet above mean sea level.
“It’s not that uncommon to get up to 1,470 (feet above mean sea level),” Martin said.
The highest the water level has ever been at Pipestem was 1,492 feet above mean sea level in 2009. The water level at Jamestown Reservoir was 1,454 feet above mean sea level in 2009.
Water releases at Jamestown Reservoir increased from 100 cubic feet per second to 200 feet per second on Wednesday. Pipestem Reservoir releases are at 15 cfs.
“Nothing really happens in town until you get over 450 cfs combined,” Martin said.
Martin said the Corps of Engineers will increase its dam safety surveillance at Pipestem if water levels reach 1,470 feet above mean sea level.
Not much is affected at Pipestem Reservoir except the boat ramp and parking lot, Martin said.
“The boat ramp and the parking lot go under water at 1,465,” he said. “If the main boat ramp goes under water for some period of time there is a high water ramp, an alternate ramp that could be used at Parkhurst.”
He said the Corps of Engineers has an agreement with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department not to start dropping the water level down to 1,442.5 feet above mean sea level at Pipestem until June 1 because of fisheries management. Martin said the Corps of Engineers would release water from Pipestem slowly until September.
“We don’t want to affect spawning fisheries,” he said.
He said a target date is June 1 to get the water level to 1,431 feet above mean sea level at Jamestown Reservoir.
“Then the water would be out of the flood storage,” Martin said. “The goal is to get the water out of the flood storage elevation by June 1.”
He said the Jamestown area would need to get quite a bit more precipitation for any risk of flooding in Jamestown. The dry year in 2021 will also help reduce the chances of flooding in the Jamestown area since wetlands are filling up and there is less runoff from the snowmelt, he said.
“It’s got a chance for the moisture to soak in as opposed to if it was a hard rain, a lot more of that is going to run off,” he said. “With the slow snowmelt, that allows that moisture to soak into the ground better.”