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Corps unleashes flood of communication

After suffering criticism during the 2011 Missouri River flood, the Army Corps of Engineers has vowed to be more transparent and open.

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In an email earlier this week addressed to Missouri River basin stakeholders, the Omaha district of the corps vowed to keep the public informed with quarterly updates on dam repair projects. The corps also pledged to update local leaders once a month about the status of the Missouri River basin through June, and how the corps plans to operate the mainstem reservoir system during flood season.

Charles Mix County Emergency Management Director Mike Kotab said the corps has already been in communication with him about scenarios for the upcoming flood season.

"Letting the public know what's going on is always a positive thing for the corps," Kotab said. "They're trying to keep people in the know, and I think that's only good for everyone."

Tuesday, the corps released updates on more than 100 Missouri River dam repair projects between Montana and the Gavins Point Dam in Yankton. The projects include repairs to flood gates and work on spillways.

Work on the Fort Randall Dam at Pickstown includes seven projects to repair damage from the 2011 flood, including work on the spillway slab and project roads near the dam. Three of those projects have been completed: work on the road repairs, toe drains and spillway gallery. Work on the gates and spillway will be done in summer 2015 at Fort Randall, and the corps is reporting that all of the rest of the repairs should be done in the next few months.

At the Big Bend Dam near Fort Thompson, seven contracts were awarded to repair upstream riprap (the large stones that prevent erosion along the river's banks) and relief well outfalls, and those projects have all been finished. Gate repairs on the dam have started and are scheduled to be finished this spring.