Thanks to esteemed listener Mitch E. for passing along this picture his son took of I-29 just south of the metro from his flight from Dallas. With way-higher-than-normal releases from Gavins Point projected all summer, it's too early to say when the interstate may reopen.
It's also hard to say when it will close again with the next flood. I re-present to you this image which shows the capacity of each of the reservoirs up river. See that little bitty thing that looks like a shot glass compared to all the bathtubs north of it? That's Gavins Point Dam: The last line of defense from flooding here and to our south.
Yes, we've had a wet spring. But if these dams were really there for flood control, they would have all-but-drained them over the winter. Why would they do that? Consider THIS POST from the Sioux City Journal last November which reflected the Corps' belief they'd be ready for winter melting and spring rains: "...the Missouri River Mainstem System of six dams and reservoirs should be able to evacuate all of 2018's runoff and begin the 2019 spring runoff season on March 1 with all of its flood storage capacity available."
This flooding is the result of "all of its flood storage capacity available"? Looks like we need more capacity!
The system of dams "protecting" the Missouri River basin is well over 50 years old. More and more priority on barge traffic, hydroelectricity, recreation, and -- of course -- birds and fish habitat has made the problem worse. This is an assertion the courts agreed with last year, when several ag producers along the river successfully sued the U.S. government for flood damages going back to 2007 for that very reason: Not putting a high enough priority on flood control.
Is anything going to change? Doesn't look likely, due to expense of building another dam/reservoir or buying up farmland to allow it to flood. And, there's the usual Congressional gridlock (Congress delivers the river plan to the Corps of Engineers, and it's laden with the same kind of pet-project B.S. you'll find in any other Congressional bill).
Should something change soon? According to the government's own experts, yes. Consider this from THIS RECENT REPORT:
A 2012 report, commissioned by the United States Bureau of Reclamation, predicted that by mid-century there would be a 6 percent average annual increase in upper-basin runoff and a 10 percent annual increase in lower basin runoff. In other words, this anomaly might become the new normal.
“We’ve known this for some period of time,” said Gerald Galloway, engineering professor and flood management expert at the University of Maryland, “that over time the frequency of a given level of a river is changing and it’s changing toward the point where a 100-year flood is going to be a (more frequent) flood than it was before. You’re going to see those more often.”
How would you like to clean up your home/business/town/bridge/highway with that thought hanging over your head? That's what several of our friends and neighbors here in the Midwest face this year, and -- perhaps -- for the rest of our lives until Congress does something (but that Mueller Report is more important, right?).