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Bagnell Dam Prepares for Heavy Rainfall and Flooding on the Missouri River

KBIA file photo
After a record year for Missouri River flooding, an independent panel says the Army Corps of Engineers performed well, but the manual that guides water management needs revision.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for many counties in mid-Missouri through Thursday morning.

Operators of Bagnell Dam have been increasing the amount of water they release to avoid flooding at Lake of the Ozarks and on the Missouri River. In preparation for heavy rainfall, Bagnell Dam at the Lake of the Ozarks operated at its maximum water output, which is 37,000 cubic feet per second, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Warren Witt is Director of Hydro Operations at Ameren-Missouri. He said, on a normal day, the dam releases anywhere from 1,000 cubic feet per second to 37,000 cubic feet per second. If the dam released its floodgates, it would be operating at about 50,000 cubic feet per second.

Even though mid-Missouri is expecting high levels of rainfall, Witt said Bagnell Dam will reduce its water output beginning Thursday to the point at which it is only releasing the amount of water flowing into the lake from its tributaries.

Water flows from Truman Lake through the Truman Dam, to the Lake of the Ozarks, then through Bagnell Dam to the Osage River, which ultimately flows to the Missouri River. Ameren works with the Army Corps of Engineers to manage water levels throughout this water system.

“Whatever we’re discharging impacts flooding on the Missouri river, so when the Missouri gets to certain flood levels, then we stop discharging so that we’re not adding to that flooding,” Witt said.

Currently, at 37,000 cubic feet per second, Bagnell Dam is only releasing the amount of water flowing into the Lake of the Ozarks from Truman Lake.

Witt says there is a 2-to-3-foot margin before the lake would flood, so he does not expect the lake to experience any flooding. However, the Missouri River is currently flooded and its water levels are expected to continue rising.