Gavins Point releases increased slightly ahead of colder temperatures

Missouri River Water Management Division
Published Feb. 5, 2021
Lewis & Clark Lake and Gavins Point Dam are nestled in the golden, chalkstone-lined valley of the Missouri River growing into one of the most popular recreation spots in the Great Plains.

Gavins Point Dam was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1944, commonly called the Pick-Sloan Plan. Ground was broken at the damsite on May 18, 1952, in a ceremony attended by Lieutenant General Lewis Pick, then Chief of Engineers, and the Governors of South Dakota and Nebraska. Construction began immediately and in September 1956 the Powerplant began producing electricity for customers. The total cost of the dam totaled just under $50 million. Yearly benefits from the dam are estimated at $35 million dollars.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increased Gavins Point releases from 17,000 cubic feet per second to 19,000 cfs at noon Friday.

The National Weather Service’s forecast indicates the lower Missouri River basin will experience extreme cold temperatures for the next 7-10 days. The much colder temperatures have the potential to cause or excaserbate  ice formation on tributaries and the mainstem of the lower Missouri River.

“We expect ice forming on the tributaries will reduce inflows into the lower Missouri River. By slightly increasing releases from Gavins Point Dam, we will minimize potentially lower river stages caused by lower inflows and reduce the chance of ice jams forming in the Missouri River,” said John Remus, chief the USACE’s Missouri River Basin Water Management Division.

Releases from Gavins Point will remain at 19,000 cfs until the colder-than-normal temperatures have exited the basin and tributary inflows normalize.

Basin and river conditions continue to be monitored, including plains and mountain snow accumulation, and System regulation will be adjusted based on the most up-to-date information. The river ice report is available at:

To view the detailed three-week release forecast for the mainstem dams, go to

The Missouri Basin Web App provides links to these reports and others that are updated more frequently at


Eileen Williamson

Release no. 21-009