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Official Gives Insight To Water Flows Project

Official Gives Insight To Water Flows Project Official Gives Insight To Water Flows Project

Joe Bonneau, Missouri River Recovery Program manager for the Corps of Engineers, reached out to area residents regarding the Fort Peck water flows project during a presentation at the Missouri River Conservation District’s quarterly meeting on Tuesday, May 21.

Bonneau noted that it’s beneficial for him to make a visit in Montana. He said communication is the key for the project to succeed.

“The communication part has been both the best and worst parts,” Bonneau said. He explained there have been a lot of meeting, but some people along the river were still even unaware of the project. “It’s hard to communicate enough. I may not be the best communicator, but I do understand when I hear from farmers.”

The 2018 Biological Opinion requires the test under the Endangered Species Act for operation of the Missouri River Mainstream Reservoir System. The purpose of the test flows is to evaluate the potential for achieving pallid sturgeon spawning and recruitment on the upper Missouri River.

He said the fear of the test flows is to not gather enough information to find solutions. If that occurs, a solution could be dictated that doesn’t work for people.

The Corps of Engineers has the requirement to implement test flows when conditions are right during the next 15 years. Bonneau guesses that will occur between three and five times.

He said pallid sturgeon have been noted in the Missouri River near Wolf Point, which isn’t uncommon. He added that it’s common for the fish to leave to the Yellowstone River to spawn.

“All the pallid sturgeon monitoring that was ongoing is ongoing,” Bonneau said.

The second peak release will begin June 13, with a target rate of a climb equaling 1,100 cfs a day. On June 21-24, the expected second peak of 22,500 cfs is expected to hold for three days. From June 25 to July 3, flows will drop at a daily average of 1,000 cfs for 12 days.

He would appreciate more input from the public including what are the biggest concerns right now and why, or when irrigators took the pumps out before the test flows, was it needed?

“Really specific info like that is most helpful,” Bonneau said.

The Corps holds weekly calls each Wednesday, at 1 p.m. Central Time, (12 p.m. Mountain Time) at mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/ 3752462/weekly-calls-designedto- keep-public-updated-on-statusof- fort-peck-test-flows/.

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