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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District
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332 Minnesota St., Suite E1500
St. Paul, MN 55101

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Corps of Engineers plans to store water in the Mississippi Headwaters

Published Nov. 2, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, is preparing to store future rainfall within the Mississippi River Headwaters’ reservoirs during the next few weeks in an effort to ease drought conditions and support navigation south of St. Louis.


The St. Paul District falls under the Corps of Engineers’ Mississippi Valley Division. Maj. Gen. John Peabody, division commander, recently directed St. Paul District staff to hold any future precipitation within its Headwaters’ reservoirs until the water can be released later this year. The timing of the Headwaters release will depend on the weather, but the plan is for the release to happen before winter freeze-up and it will only include water collected during the next few weeks. The plan does not call for the reservoirs to drop below normal winter drawdown levels.


The intent of this decision is to provide adequate water levels for river navigation south of St. Louis after flows are reduced from the Missouri River later this year. Flows are reduced annually at the conclusion of the navigation season on the Missouri River. The Corps is congressionally mandated to maintain the 9-foot navigation channel and current drought conditions could impact this need near St. Louis as early as December.


Due to the drought conditions, the reservoir levels are currently at winter drawdown elevations. If a large-scale precipitation event should occur during the planned storage, the reservoirs could potentially rise to summer conservation levels.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, serves the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. It contributes around $175 million to the five-state district economy. The 700 employees work at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states. For more information, see
Patrick Moes
George Stringham

Release no. 2012-108