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Another month, another increase in expected runoff into Lake Sakakawea

The 4 Bears Casino and Lodge’s yacht is seen July 15, 2016, near the casino’s marina on Lake Sakakawea west of New Town, N.D. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

MINOT, N.D. -- According to the May outlook issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the amount of snowmelt runoff over the Upper Missouri River Basin has jumped from 30.2 million acre feet of water a month ago to 33.2 maf in May. The amount is 131 percent of the historical average.

The increase in runoff means an upward adjustment for the expected peak elevation of Lake Sakakawea this summer. Sakakawea is now projected to peak at an elevation of 1,848.6 feet at the end of July. That compares to the April 1 projection of 1,844.9 feet. A year ago Lake Sakakawea peaked at 1,846.6 feet.

Corps of Engineers project manager Todd Lindquist said that the expected runoff is still forecast to remain below the reservoir's flood storage zone which is from 1,850 to 1,854 feet.

"It's really normal operations for us based on the current forecast," said Lindquist.

The long-term average high for Lake Sakakawea is 1,847.1 feet. In 2007 the reservoir established a record low at 1,807.1 feet. The reservoir reached 1,854 feet for its only time in history in 2011.

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