The United States Army Corps of Engineers is keeping Boonville Public Works Director M.L. Cauthon and staff up-to-date each week on current Missouri River levels and volume status. This year has seen a drought, which has effected most of the Midwest. Because of this drought the Corps issued a press release before the closing of the navigation season stating they were going to decrease the water flow downstream.
By doing this the Corps decreased the water flow from Gavin's Point Reservoir in South Dakota. Cauthon said the Corps also has data on where each intake is for each community on the river, which allows them to know if these communities need more water.
Typically the navigation season around Boonville lasts from March to the end of November. Historically, water levels have been lower in the winter. According to Cauthon, it is not unusual to see water levels at two, three or four feet. Cauthon said these figures do not represent how deep the river is but represent a depth measured from a point in the river. He said each point is different at every community. He explained the point as 565.41 (zero level) feet above sea level. Since the river was at four feet Thursday, he said there is still a lot of water above this point. When there is a zero water level, he said, that does not mean there is no water in the river. The river level is measured at a station on the Boonslick Bridge.
For water purposes, the updates received from the Corps allow Cauthon and Chief Operator of the Boonville Water Treatment Plant Todd Baslee the ability to plan accordingly for more or less water. Cauthon said Boonville has not been in danger of having less water. He also said they have never had to issues any water usage restrictions based on Missouri River levels.
Cauthon said Boonville has two intakes extended in the river for collecting the drinking water. One intake (low) extends towards the middle, but not quite to the channel, and one intake (high) is between the bank and the low intake. Both intakes connect near the river bank at the raw water pumping station. The low intake is located at 560 feet above sea level or five feet below zero point. The high intake is situated at 565 feet above sea level. In 2005, a renovation was done to the pumping station, which included installation of an emergency backup generator, improved pump priming capabilities and the ability of switching back and forth from intakes. Cauthon said it is vital to be able to switch back and forth because when the high intake gets closer to water level air may get in the pipe. He said Boonville has been lucky with two intakes because many communities only have one.
Cauthon said since the Corps keeps data of the intakes along the Missouri River, if there was a problem, they would adjust river levels for it. He also said there would be many towns having issues of collecting water before Boonville would.
Page 2 of 2 - "The Corps has a hard job of trying the take care of the river intake owners, the navigation industry and the upper reservoirs." Cauthon said. Cauthon also said they have to manage the water around to all areas of the Missouri River system.