- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The North Dakota state engineer says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should drain at least 6 feet of water from Lake Sakakawea before it freezes to lessen the chance of ice jams and flooding on the Missouri River this winter.

The corps will unveil its annual operating plan for the river in a public meeting Tuesday in Bismarck. State engineer Todd Sando, who is scheduled to testify at the meeting, said the corps should move the water while the river is open rather than during the winter and risk overland flooding.

“We have the capacity to move the water now,” Sando told the Bismarck Tribune (http://bitly.com/1wwN97h ).

Sando said above-normal runoff in the basin this season has prompted the corps to dump water from the four lower mainstem dams, but Sakakawea and Montana’s Fort Peck Reservoir remain high.

National Weather Service hydrologist Allen Schlag said it has been a wet year, but he is not worried about flooding in the Bismarck-Mandan area. The top 10 inches of soil in the area is dry and able to soak in water, he said.

“We have been pretty dry in North Dakota in the last month,” Schlag said.

Sando said it’s better to take precautions now than be sorry later.

“I strongly urge the corps to further increase releases from Garrison Dam before freeze-in to alleviate undue risk to the citizens of North Dakota,” he said.

Corps officials were not available for comment.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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