A team of representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers provided a program and then answered questions from the public regarding management of the Missouri River basin during a public meeting on Friday at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trails and Visitor Center at Nebraska City.
Discussions included weather patterns, the run off into the Missouri River system, either from mountain snow pack or  from rain fall events.
The main concern, however, was directed at the strategy the Corps of Engineers employs to limit flood impacts in the basin.
There are six dams in the Missouri River system, including the southern most dam, which is tracked by local residents, that being Gavins Point near Yankton S.D.
Other dams in the system include, from north to south, Fort Peck, Garrison, Oahe, Big Bend and Fort Randall.
All the dams are run together as a system with the biggest storage dams being Fort Peck, Garrison and Oahe.
Gavins Point is a run through operation, meaning the project includes very little storage space. What flows down the river, flows through the dam.
As a system, the dams use seven percent of their possible storage space for exclusive flood control and 16 percent is indicated for annual flood control and multiple use. Fifty-three percent of the storage space is marked for carryover and multiple use and 24 percent is designated as the permanent pool.
The job of the Corps of Engineers relates to the management of water in the system for eight congressionally authorized purposes with those being flood control, navigation, hydropower, water supply, fish and wildlife including the protection of endangered species, irrigation, water quality control and recreation.
When in normal operations, the management of the dams by the Corps of Engineers is meant to meet each of the congressionally authorized purposes with equal weight given to each.
When in the exclusive flood control area, the main objective, above all others, is controlling the flood threat.
Mark Jones, a farmer from Rulo, Nebr., who attended the meeting on Friday, said he believes the Corps of Engineers doesn’t have the tools it needs to properly manage the Missouri River system with an eye toward flood control.
Because of the way the pools are set up from permanent pool all the way up through exclusive flood control, Jones said the Corps doesn’t have the storage capacity to deal with run off from mountain snow pack and rainfall events.
Other attendees agreed, asking the Corps representatives if the system would be better off if more storage space was designated for flood control, thus allowing the Crops to keep water behind dams at reservoirs when the river system is running high and ground is saturated.
All of these considerations are managed through the Master Manual for the Missouri River Basin.
While the Corps of Engineers representatives said deviations could be ordered to deal with operations on the river in light of short term events or circumstances, a change in regard to designation of water percentages behind dams would require a change to the Master Manual.
“There is a process that has to be followed for that,” said Kevin Grode, team leader for reservoir regulation. “That is a very involved process.”
Grode said each of the congressionally approved uses would have to be studied in the light of new changes before permanent changes could be made to the  Master Manual going forward.
In terms of local impact, the Missouri River was above the flood stage for much of the summer and into the fall.
The river crested at 23.30 feet in June and continues to run above the action stage and near the flood sage. The action stage is 16 feet and the river is closer to the flood stage of 18 feet with a Monday reading of 17.7.
Releases at the Gavins Point Dam continue to be high as the Corps is releasing 58,000 cubic feet per second in the hopes of reaching the bottom of the annual flood control and multiple use zone.
By reaching the bottom of the 16 percent zone, Grode said the Missouri River system will be ideally situated for either a wet season or a dry season.
At Nebraska City, and across the river in Fremont County, this news appears to be of little consolation.
As the river rose this summer, fields were flooded and roadways were threatened while residents drew correlations between river conditions in 2018 and river conditions in 2010, which preceded the biggest Missouri River flooding event in history in 2011 as the river crested at 28.27 on June 28.
Looking at the flooding in Fremont County just across the river from Nebraska City, it’s hard for residents not to get nervous. Water is already near the shoulder of Highway 2 and with the river staying above 16 feet, that water probably isn’t going anywhere.
The biggest piece of the puzzle might be what happens next in terms of run off.
John Reemus, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management, said the run off from excessive rains definitely contributed to the level that the river got to this summer and said that, without the rains, the river level now might be closer to 14 feet.
As residents look forward to 2019, the forecast for rain and snow run off impacts are unknown.
All residents can do now is watch, and hope for the best.