Thursday, February 29, 2024 - 10:26am

Gov. Doug Burgum today received a commitment from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reduce flows from Garrison Dam upstream of an ice jam causing minor flooding on the Missouri River in Bismarck-Mandan, as state agencies coordinated with local and federal partners on a whole-of-government response.

The major ice jam near Fox Island and the Heart River confluence south of Bismarck caused the Missouri River to rise rapidly Wednesday, flooding low-lying areas along the shoreline. The river level exceeded minor flood stage of 14.5 feet at the Bismarck gauge near the Main Avenue bridge at around 9 a.m. today.

State, local and federal officials including representatives of the Governor’s Office, Department of Emergency Services (DES), Department of Water Resources, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Transportation, North Dakota National Guard, National Weather Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Burleigh and Morton counties met Wednesday night and this morning at DES headquarters at Fraine Barracks in Bismarck to coordinate a response to the ice jam flooding. Water Resources had drones flying over the ice jam to gauge the situation on Wednesday and again this morning.

“We are monitoring this situation closely and taking a whole-of-government approach to protecting lives and property on the Missouri River in Bismarck-Mandan,” Burgum said. “We appreciate the cooperation of our local, state and federal partners as we respond to this rapidly developing situation.”

In phone calls last night and this morning, Burgum, Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, director of DES and adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, and Water Resources Director Andrea Travnicek pressed Army Corps of Engineers officials to reduce flows from Garrison Dam upstream of the ice jam to help prevent further rises in the river level. The Corps said it is prioritizing flood control operations and that it would reduce the daily average flow from 25,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Wednesday to 22,000 cfs today and 19,000 cfs on Friday. The hydroelectric dam normally releases less water at night and more water during the day when more electricity is needed to meet demand. Corps officials noted it will take a couple of days for Bismarck-Mandan to see the impacts of reduced releases from the dam. 

Potential measures to accelerate melting of the ice jam also are being evaluated. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.

For updates on flooding and other major events, visit