Minot News

Garrison Dam Spillway Opened

Corps Demonstrates Spillway Can Be Used in Non-Flood Situations

Riverdale, ND - Water is flowing through the spillway at the Garrison Dam for only the second time since it was built six decades ago.
Spillway gates were opened today - but not because of any emergency.

Jim Olson was at the dam as history was made.

When big inflows to Lake Sakakawea forced higher releases from Garrison Dam this spring and summer, three regulating tunnels that move water directly from the lake into the river below were pressed into service. But Monday morning, the 9,000 CFS coming out of those tunnels dropped to zero in the space of about three minutes.
Then, less than a half-hour later, water began gushing through the Garrison Dam spillway for the first time since the record year of 2011 - and for only the second time since the dam began operations in 1953.

(Todd Lindquist, Garrison Dam Project Manager) "Now we have the option of using the spillway and it won't affect people downstream."

(Jim Olson) "In total, nine gates are being opened, for 9,000 CFS of water to be sent downstream. The whole idea is to prove to you they can use the spillway anytime, it doesn't have to be an emergency."

(Todd Lindquist, Garrison Dam Project Manager) "We want the public to understand that releasing water through the spillway is just another means of passing water through the dam. It doesn't necessarily mean we're in a flood event, we now have three ways we can release water."

Todd Lindquist says repairs made downstream of the spillway after the devastating releases of 2011 now provide a clear path for water to make its way to the main Missouri River channel.

(Todd Lindquist, Garrison Dam Project Manager) "The system can operate as intended and designed and will give us as managers a bit more latitude and options to choose from."

The change in where the water is released didn't affect how much water is headed downstream - it was still 50,000 CFS total on Monday and will drop by 2,000 CFS on Tuesdan and another 2,000 CFS on Wednesday as the Corps continues to reduce releases while still dropping the level of Lake Sakakawea over the next several months. 
At Garrison Dam, Jim Olson, KX News.

A Corps spokesperson said the Garrison Dam did its job well this year - moving a large amount of water without allowing the Missouri River to reach flood stage in Bismarck-Mandan.

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