The level of the James River in Jamestown will be falling, according to James Dixon, manager of Pipestem Dam for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"Releases from the Jamestown Dam will drop to zero," he said, referring to a release gate change Monday afternoon. "The Pipestem Dam will continue at 100 cubic feet per second but could go to zero on Wednesday."
The decreases come as the operational plans for the two dams shift from releasing the water accumulated last fall in October snowstorms to controlling the potential for downstream flooding from spring snowmelt, Dixon said.
Releases prior to the gate change Monday had been 100 cfs from Jamestown Dam and 100 cfs from Pipestem Dam.
Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager and 911 coordinator, estimated it was probably in the early months of 2019 when releases from the two dams were at zero cfs.
The Corps of Engineers plans to keep the releases from the two dams at zero until the James River at LaMoure is ice free, Dixon said.
That could come very soon with the warm weather forecast for this week, according to Kimberly Robbins, LaMoure County emergency manager.
"As of today (Monday) we still have ice to just south of Dickey," she said. "The James River in more than half of LaMoure County still has ice on it."
Water releases from Jamestown and Pipestem dams had kept the James River through Jamestown free of ice all winter although ice formed on the river south of the Jamestown area.
Robbins said the James River at LaMoure is now more than 2 feet below flood stage although it is expected to rise as the warm weather forecast for this week will increase runoff into the creeks that flow into the James River north of LaMoure and south of Jamestown.
"So far, the inflows have been slow from creeks between Jamestown and LaMoure," Robbins said. "Allen Schlag (hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Bismarck) called and said that could change this week."
Dixon said the mix of above and below freezing temperatures through March has melted a lot of snow without creating any rapid inflows into the streams of the area. He called it almost ideal conditions for the spring snowmelt.
"If the weather holds," he said, "spring (flooding along the rivers) should shape up pretty good."
While little problems are anticipated along the James River, Bergquist said the problems are just beginning in the rural areas of western Stutsman County.
"I don't think we're done at all with water problems," he said. "The problems in the pothole country of the western part of the county are just beginning."