BISMARCK - The much anticipated report on the 2011 flood in the Souris River Basin was presented by Col. Michael Price, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to a meeting of the International Souris River Board Wednesday.
However, the report was not made public pending further review of the board.
The meeting, which was well attended by representatives from both sides of the border, was held in Bismarck. Board co-chairmen are Todd Sando, North Dakota State Water Commission, and Russell Boals, of Regina, Sask.
Price handed several copies of the lengthy report to members of the board, saying, "To make it public or not would be a board decision." If, or when, the report will be publicly released was not decided at the meeting. Public release of the document could follow a brief comment period open to the board.
Price also proposed that the board form a task force to focus on "How do we prevent something that occurred last year?"
The board accepted Price's report and, at the request of co-chairman Boals, passed a motion to form a task force to review, "2011 flooding with respect to the 1989 agreement." The 1989 agreement is the operating plan for the Souris River. The task force is expected to be appointed soon and hold its first discussions by the end of March.
John Fahlman, Saskatche-wan Watershed Authority, Moose Jaw, Sask., detailed current moisture conditions in Saskatchewan. According to Fahlman, the current moisture content in the Estevan area ranges from 60 to 85 percent of normal and the Regina, Sask., region well below normal. Both areas have significant impact on the amount of water that enters the Souris River drainage.
Fahlman also discussed water levels at Rafferty Dam near Estevan and Alameda Dam near Oxbow.
"As of this time there is no need to draw down," said Fahlman. "As of now it is normal operations, if we don't get any snow."
At the ISRB February 2011 meeting in Regina, Sask., a one in 10 flood event was declared. When that occurs the Corps takes over management of the Souris. No such declaration was deemed necessary at this time.
Allen Schlag, National Weather Service hydrologist, Bismarck, noted the possibility of "several inches of snow over the Souris" in the next few days, but said it should amount to a half inch or less of moisture.
"Clearly, the next couple of weeks we are going to be cooler and wetter than we have been," said Schlag. "Largely speaking, all through the winter, we have defied the odds. The reality is, across North Dakota as well as in Canada, we're in drought. A lot of people don't realize we've really had a precipitation deficit since August of 2011."
Despite the lack of snowfall this winter an anomaly is occurring in several of North Dakota's rivers and streams, including both the Souris and Red Rivers. Flows are nearly twice what is considered normal given the amount of moisture received. The extra flow in the rivers is said to be the result of previous saturation makings its way back into drainages.
Additional discussion was held regarding the need for a more proficient reporting system to gauge rainfall, particularly on the upper reaches of the drainage in Sask. Alan Walter, Minot public works director, told the group that the reporting system "has to be vastly improved".